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PC promotes Dee Nichols to athletic director

Dee Nichols

Presbyterian College moved quickly to hire a new athletic director, announcing Friday that Dee Nichols is being promoted to the post.

Nichols, senior associate athletic director for operations and senior woman administrator, replaces the departing Rob Acunto.

PC announced Wednesday that Acunto was leaving to become deputy director of athletics at Fresno State, one day after Fresno State announced the move.

Nichols’ hire was among the first tasks addressed by new PC President Anita Gustafson, who began work as the college’s 20th president on Tuesday.

“Dee Nichols brings with her 24 years of leadership experience in intercollegiate athletics,” said Gustafson. “At PC, she has worked closely with student-athletes and the coaching staff across all sports, and she is well-known and well-respected throughout the community. I am confident that Dee is the right person at the right time to be PC’s next athletic director.”

Nichols said she is deeply honored to be chosen as PC’s next athletic director. She is also the first woman to fill the post.

“I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity to serve Presbyterian College in this new role,” she said. “I am blessed every day to be surrounded by so many great coaches and professionals in this department and touched by their support and confidence. I look forward to working with our staff and faculty to provide the very best experience for our Blue Hose student-athletes and excited to continue the work of building on the championship spirit at PC.”

Longtime administrator Dee Nichols has been chosen to serve as Presbyterian College’s new director of athletics.

Nichols, the senior associate athletic director for operations and senior woman administrator, replaces Rob Acunto, who announced his departure this week to become the new deputy director of athletics at Fresno State University in California.

An instrumental part of the department’s operations, Nichols has served various stints supervising athletic offices responsible for NCAA compliance, scholarships, programming, and facilities operations, in addition to a period as interim AD.

Nichols also played an integral role in several influential periods in the department’s history, including the Division I transition, the addition of four varsity sports, assisting the recent $8 million campaign to fund new athletic facilities, and serving as an adviser on the design of three new athletic facilities.

Over the past 13 years, Nichols has grown the department’s first NCAA Division I compliance program, focusing on education and monitoring. She has aided in the creation and development of the academic services position to provide resources to student-athletes.

During her tenure, Nichols has held titles of assistant athletic director (2009-12), associate athletic director (2012-15), senior associate athletic director (2015-19), and interim athletic director (April to August 2019) preceding Acunto’s arrival, as well as the senior woman administrator role she was appointed to in 2010 and still holds today.

She also holds several other leadership positions on campus, from her post on the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, as adviser to the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, and as the athletic department’s liaison to campus departments, including Residential Life, Financial Aid, Conduct, and Title IX.

Nichols, a 1991 Georgia Southern graduate, was also named an Honorary Alumna of PC in 2020.

As senior woman administrator, Nichols serves on the Big South Conference Board of Administrators and various conference committees.

“Dee Nichols has been committed to the success of PC Athletics and specifically to the well-being of our student-athletes for over a decade,” said college trustee Ted Pitts. “No one knows PC athletics better or is more prepared to lead the department at this time than Dee. We are lucky to have Dee agree to become our next AD.”

Fellow PC trustee Brad Spearman, who worked closely with Nichols on athletic initiatives, is also enthusiastic about the college’s choice.

“Dee has an immeasurable depth of knowledge and experience regarding PC, our programs, student-athletes and coaches, and the ever-changing NCAA Division I landscape”, he said. “Her connection to and love for PC runs deep. She is uniquely qualified to be PC’s next athletic director”.

Nichols earned her master’s degree in physical education from Georgia Southern in 1992. As a student, she was a four-year starter in volleyball for the Eagles.

She began her professional career in intercollegiate athletics as an assistant volleyball coach at Georgia Southern in 1992. She served as head volleyball coach for her alma mater from 1994-97 before switching to women’s basketball as a recruiting coordinator.

Before joining PC’s athletics staff, Nichols was the assistant compliance director at the University of Rhode Island.

Nichols resides in Clinton with her husband, Harold, a 1989 PC graduate and former Blue Hose head football coach. They have three children – Cassie, Cameron, and Corey.

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