New MAAC commissioner ready to ‘take chances’
By Jake Tiger and Carolo Pascale
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) announced Travis Tellitocci as its next commissioner on Feb. 7, via a press release.
Tellitocci is in line to be the conference’s fourth commissioner, and will replace current commissioner Rich Ensor following his retirement at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
“We will not be afraid to take chances in the MAAC,” said Tellitocci during a press conference following the announcement. “That’s been a hallmark of my career. We’ll be strategic, calculated and steadfast in our approach to those chances, but we definitely want to be bold, innovative and have vision.”
Prior to becoming commissioner of the MAAC, Tellitocci was with the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC), serving as assistant commissioner for football, basketball and officiating since September 2016.
Tellitocci also has roots within the MAAC, having earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Marist College in 2004, before working for the school in a variety of roles starting in 2006. Before his departure in 2016, Tellitocci served as Marist’s deputy athletics director, working with all 23 of the college’s Division I teams.
“We were impressed with Travis’ rich experiences in both professional sports and college athletics, which position him well to elevate the MAAC Conference and help set a bold vision for its programs,” said Quinnipiac University President Judy Olian, who helped facilitate the search for Ensor’s replacement. “The 11 institutions participating in the MAAC today embody excellence in both athletics and academics, and we look forward to the continued growth of the conference under Travis’ leadership.”
With the longest term of any NCAA Division I commissioner, Ensor will leave Tellitocci with big shoes to fill. Under the 35-year leadership of Ensor, the MAAC nearly doubled its number of sports, jumping from 13 in 1988 to the current total of 24.
“Throughout the search process, Travis demonstrated that he is an emerging leader in college athletics, and is well-suited to build on the incredible success of Rich Ensor,” MAAC and Niagara University president, the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. said in a press release prior to the media conference. “The MAAC has never been stronger, and Travis’ breadth of experience will be critical as we face the challenges of Division I athletics, strengthen our focus on the well-being of the student-athletes, grow the inclusivity of their experiences, and build on the storied legacy of the conference.”
Rider Athletic Director Don Harnum got to speak with Tellitocci alongside the 10 other athletic directors from the rest of the conference, and believes that this will be a big challenge for him, but is excited to see what he can bring to the MAAC.
“I thought he understood the challenges of our conference. I thought he had some pretty good ideas of how to advance the conference and I thought he had a pretty good idea of what he was walking into,” said Harnum. “I think he had a pretty good understanding of what we are as a conference, and then what we aspire to be.”
Harnum has been at Rider for 26 of Ensor’s years as commissioner, and while Ensor’s parting signals a changing MAAC, Harnum said he and the rest of the athletic directors believes that Tellitocci will be able to step in and make an impact regardless of how big or tough of a job it will be.
“I think it’s an extremely challenging job. There’s big shoes to fill because there’s been things set in stone that Rich’s done for 35 years. I’m sure there’s going to be a learning curve,” said Harnum. “Anytime someone steps up, either from an assistant coach to a head coach or an assistant athletic director to an athletic director or associate commissioner, to the big chair, there’s always an adjustment and a learning curve. But I think we were all confident.”