For more than a quarter-century, the sports department at Adelphi University had been guided by the same person — Valley Stream resident Robert Hartwell. That tenure came to an end this week following Hartwell’s retirement announcement in the spring and the hiring of a new athletic director, Danny McCabe.
“I just felt it was time to make a substitution and take me out of the game and put somebody else in,” Hartwell said of his decision to retire.
In 1986, Hartwell was named the athletic director at Adelphi University and was eventually promoted to assistant vice president in 2009. During his time at Adelphi, the Panthers captured 10 NCAA championships and 10 NCAA regional championships while making more than 100 NCAA appearances, as well as garnering numerous conference titles. He played a key role in moving the university’s athletic program from the East Coast Conference (formerly NYCAC) to the Northeast-10.
While Hartwell, 72, relishes the on-field accomplishments of his student-athletes over the years, he is more proud of the positive contributions they have made to the community.
He said that on-field success doesn’t matter if student-athletes are misbehaving or not putting 100 percent effort into their classes. For Hartwell, developing well-rounded student-athletes is the way to developing a solid sports program. “If the student-athlete is doing well in school,” he said, “and the student-athlete is really culturally dealing with the situations that occur and confront them and deal with them in an adult manner, then you can build programs that will win.”
He launched the Adelphi’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which features two representatives from each of the university’s teams. The group raises money and organizes community service opportunities. In 2012, the committee started the Hartwell Cup, an award that honors the best overall athletic program based on athletic success, classroom performance and community service.