John Harvard's Journal
Courtesy Harvard Sports Information
In 1978, Harvard won the Ivy League's first women's soccer championship, and that game ball has graced the offices of three Harvard directors of athletics: Jack Reardon '60, Bill Cleary '56, and now Bob Scalise, M.B.A. '89, who was recently appointed to succeed Cleary as Nichols family director of Harvard athletics. Scalise knows this trophy well, since he coached the team that won it. And women's soccer played a key role in his appointment: President Lawrence H. Summers publicly recalled Scalise's support for a handful of women who, in 1976, wanted to start a club soccer team and he lauded Scalise's commitment to "inclusiveness" in athletics. A lacrosse player from Long Island, Scalise attended Brown, where as an attacker he led the nation in scoring in 1970 with 47 goals; he still holds the Brown single-game scoring record with 11 goals. After graduating in 1971, he coached lacrosse and soccer at Brown, then in 1974 came to Harvard as a 24-year-old head lacrosse coach and assistant soccer coach. He became head women's soccer coach in 1977. From 1974 to 1987, Scalise's laxmen were 98-79, while his women's soccer sides went 113-38-11 over 10 seasons and won three Ivy titles. After earning his M.B.A., he worked in several administrative jobs at the Business School; he took four years out for a stint with Bain & Company, but since 1996 he has been the B-School's associate dean for administration. In 1986 he married Maura Costin Scalise '80, an all-Ivy swimmer at Harvard and coach of the Harvard women's swimming and diving team from 1984 to 1997. They and their four children live in Nahant, north of Boston.
"I resonate with mission-driven organizations," Scalise says, noting that when he applied to Harvard Business School in 1987, he wrote on his application that it was his dream to direct a major university's athletic department. Regarding Harvard sports, Scalise stresses balance: "We of course want a strong won-lost record, and we're equally concerned about the quality of students competing, and how well they do as students. Another important goal is serving the entire community well--we want a broad-based program." He notes that the Harvard community's needs for sports facilities have changed: "It used to be that only 'specialists' [i.e., varsity athletes] made demands on the facilities, but now everyone on campus wants a place to work out." And remaining competitive is especially challenging in an era when more colleges seek to have winning teams. "Some specialized college athletes are spending way, way too much time on athletics. At Harvard, sports are an important part of the University, but not the driving force--we'd rather have that be our scholarship. Yet we also want to compete with the folks who sometimes do make sports the top priority. That's a big challenge."