Profiles in Leadership: Craig Coleman, Robert Morris University

Athletic Director

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When Craig Coleman became Robert Morris University’s athletic director in 2005, he had to change just one letter in his courtesy title.

Or as former Post-Gazette sportswriter Paul Meyer wrote: Craig Coleman, M.D., will become Craig Coleman, A.D.

But it is because of his experience as a medical professional that Dr. Coleman believes he has been successful running Robert Morris’ athletics department.

“The only people more difficult to supervise than coaches are doctors, and I had done that,” Dr. Coleman said.

What would make Pittsburgh better?

“I’d love to see a sports commission. Many cities have them, and I think it’s a great advantage when you’re trying to bring events like the Frozen Four into your city. VisitPittsburgh has a pretty healthy sports component to its organization, but it’s not the same as having a sports commission.”

He moved to Pittsburgh shortly after graduating from the Penn State University School of Medicine in Hershey in 1983. He never figured he would stay too long — the Philadelphia native got his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania in his native city.

The University of Pittsburgh offered him a faculty position at its medical school, and he eventually became medical director of several UPMC inpatient units.

Meanwhile, he was coaching fast-pitch softball, a love of his that started in his college years when his sister played. He coached a club team in Pittsburgh that eventually drew the attention of then-Robert Morris athletic director Bob McBee, who hired Dr. Coleman in 1990 to coach the Colonials’ softball team.

Fifteen years later, after the relatively sudden death of then-athletic director Susan Hofacre, the university president at the time approached Dr. Coleman about taking the position.

Robert Morris has since expanded its regional and national profile by sending numerous teams to the NCAA tournament, including the men’s and women’s basketball teams and the men’s hockey team. The university was the host school for the 2013 Frozen Four college hockey tournament, which generated an estimated $10 million in direct economic spending and nearly $1 million in new tax revenue for the region.

The university lost a recent bid to bring the Frozen Four back to Pittsburgh, but Dr. Coleman said it intends to continue to bid for the right to play host.

“I think I’m most proud of being able to garner the resources to let our coaches be more successful,” he said.

“I modeled myself in this job the way my superiors supervised me as a psychiatrist at UPMC. It was their job to get me the resources I needed, and they trusted in me. I felt like that was probably the best way to do it.”

— Michael Sanserino:, 412-263-1969, Twitter @msanserino.

First Published May 9, 2014 12:46 PM

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