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Shawn Tucker’s impact on Rutgers & the Rutgers Leadership Academy

Tucker leaving to take AD post at NJCU

Ohio State v Rutgers Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

A lot of interesting emails hit my inbox over the last couple of days.

And they all revolved around Shawn Tucker.

Tucker came to Rutgers in 2002 as a freshman football player. He earned a pair of Bachelor of Arts degrees from Rutgers in May 2007 with a double major in Geography & Labor Studies. In May 2012, he added a Master’s of City & Regional Planning (MCRP) from the Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. On the playing field Shawn was a four-year standout and three-year starter at wide receiver for the Scarlet Knights and was named team captain as a senior in 2006 when he helped lead Rutgers to its first of four consecutive football bowl championships in 2006.

But many of us - likely most if you look at the younger fans - know him as the Associate Athletic Director of Student-Athlete Development. Among his many tasks at RU was the development and launch of the Rutgers Leadership Academy. As noted in a press release from Rutgers, the “RLA helps to fortify student-athletes at Rutgers with valuable information and tools to guide decision-making in critical life-shaping areas such as career choice, personal enrichment, leadership, community and civic engagement and professional growth. He also created the Rutgers Leadership Academy Award.”

And that brings me to this point, again in an email from Rutgers....and involving Shawn Tucker.

From this other email: The Rutgers Leadership Academy, an entity of Rutgers Athletics, is partnering with Soles4Souls Organization to plan a service trip to Puerto Rico AND Jamaica, in May and July respectively, for our Rutgers student-athletes! Soles4Souls is a non-profit global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. These shoes go to individuals, schools, local churches, orphanages and more!

This is a repeat of last year’s service trip where student-athletes traveled to support the Soles4Souls group. It’s a great opportunity for RU athletes to give to others. And it came out of the Rutgers Leadership Academy (see how I did that....the Tucker connection?). Their goal is to raise $10,000 to send the student-athletes on their service venture and you can help support those student athletes. If you would like to make a donation or learn more about their trip from last year’s experience you can visit the fundraising site at one.rutgers.edu/rla.

Okay, so Rutgers student-athletes, through the efforts of the RLA, are helping to fight poverty. Good stuff.

But the guy who directed that is leaving Rutgers after 16 years “on the banks”. After an impressive career as an athletic administrator at his alma mater, Tucker is heading up the Turnpike to take over as Athletic Director at New Jersey City University.

NJCU President Dr. Sue Henderson, the Vice Chair of the NCAA Division III Presidents Council, said: “We had an unbelievable set of finalists for this position, which speaks to NJCU’s rise as a destination for talented administrators, faculty and students. Shawn clearly rose to the top of the list. His passion for intercollegiate athletics and his experience using it as a platform for student-athlete development maps directly to my vision for NJCU Athletics.”

Shawn is teaming up with another former RU administrator in Jason Kroll. Kroll led the Scarlet R Club, the predecessor to the R Fund, and is now NJCU’s Vice President of University Advancement and Chief Strategy Officer. And ss you can see from the tweet above,Tucker is getting an expanded role as Associate Vice President at NJCU. Said Kroll: “Shawn Tucker represents all that is good with college athletics. His commitment to comprehensive, holistic development of the student-athlete is exemplar. He’s been a leader all of his life and this is a natural next step for him professionally.”

Tucker is excited for this new chapter in his life,looking to build his own legacy at NJCU. “My initial excitement for this prestigious leadership position came during interview preparations while watching the short documentary called “A Gothic Legacy” on the special bond between coaches Marc and Charlie Brown. Immediately, I sensed the immense pride for NJCU, passion for coaching and developing young men and women to be leaders in life and a commitment to excellence that begins with rolling up your sleeves and going to work....There is tremendous potential to build a strong and reputable athletics department at NJCU that achieves success in the classroom, in competition and in life - where our department appropriately invests resources into our sports programs ensuring our coaches can lead their teams to victories.”

There was still another email, this one from AD Pat Hobbs, who expressed his sadness in losing Shawn but his enthusiasm for the opportunity for an RU alum. “We are delighted for Shawn and bummed for us. RLA and Shawn have become synonymous. The program he and his team have put together is instrumental in preparing our student-athletes for life after the game and the classroom. I know this was a very difficult decision for Shawn, but this is too great an opportunity for him to pass up. Please join me in wishing him all the best in this new endeavor. It’s good knowing that he’s only a short distance away and we will continue to see him regularly cheering on his Scarlet Knights.”

In addition to directing the RLA, Shawn had executive oversight over the RLA Advisory Board, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Rutgers Athletics Internship Program and R Care.