Stonehill to Name Merkert Gym Court in Honor of Paula Sullivan

Dedication ceremony to be held Saturday, November 15, at 12:30 p.m. 

EASTON, Mass. (August 29, 2014) – Stonehill College has announced that it will dedicate the basketball court in Merkert Gymnasium after Paula Sullivan, who retired after 43 years of dedicated service as coach and administrator of the College at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.

The basketball court will be officially named Paula Sullivan Court during a ceremony prior to the Stonehill women’s basketball team’s second game of the season on day two of its Tip-Off Classic on Saturday, November 15, at 12:30 p.m. The College will welcome back all of its women’s basketball alumnae as well as faculty, staff, and students for the special event to honor Sullivan and her service to Stonehill. The women’s basketball team will host Caldwell College for a non-conference battle at 1:30 p.m., and there will be a reception in Sullivan’s honor at the Pettit Atrium following the game.

“Stonehill is tremendously excited to honor the legacy of Paula Sullivan with this permanent recognition,” said Brendan J. Sullivan, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the College. “For more than four decades, Paula helped create, build, and strengthen the strong athletic tradition we have at Stonehill today. She has imparted her unparalleled passion for athletics and deep care for the student-athlete on the entire Department so that we now stand as a model NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic program. I could not think of a more appropriate honor for her name to appear in perpetuity on the court where she first made her mark at the College.”

Through over four decades of outstanding service to Stonehill, Sullivan brought excellence in all capacities she handled. As one of the winningest basketball coaches of all-time, she turned a fledgling program into a national power, then as the College's Director of Athletics, Sullivan put her stamp on the overall excellence that Stonehill still enjoys at a national level, capturing the College's first Northeast-10 Conference Presidents' Cup for overall athletic excellence in the Conference. Most recently, Sullivan led the department as Assistant Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports since 2008.

Sullivan has overseen the College’s highly successful intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports programs, which serves the entire student body on a daily basis. The athletic department has finished in the top three of the Northeast-10 Presidents’ Cup standings for ten straight years, a stretch that began during her time as Athletic Director. The athletic department has won four Presidents’ Cups in all, including a string of three-straight from 2010 through 2012, and has also performed in the classroom by earning the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence each of the first three years of its existence.

Stonehill Rec Sports services students, faculty, staff and administrators within the Stonehill Community in a variety of sports, fitness, wellness and recreational activities. The department is not only responsible for the overall fitness and wellness program at the College, but sponsors 11 competitive club sports programs and over 18 intramural programs.

Sullivan was appointed as Stonehill's Director of Athletics in April 1996, taking over the duties full-time after serving as Interim Athletics Director for six months. She oversaw a program that offers 20 varsity sports as well as some of the top athletic facilities in the Northeast, including W.B.Mason Stadium, for which she was an instrumental piece in the construction. During her tenure as Athletics Director, Stonehill captured Northeast-10 Conference titles in eight sports to go with a pair of NCAA Division II National Championships in women's lacrosse as well as the 2003 IHSA Collegiate Cup equestrian national championship. Skyhawk student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom under Sullivan's watch, as Stonehill has been recognized nationally for its student-athlete graduation rate and for its well-rounded athletics program.

Sullivan served on numerous NCAA and ECAC committees during her time as a full-time athletics administrator and was Interim Commissioner of the Northeast-10 Conference during the 2007-08 academic year, while also maintaining her duties as Director of Athletics at Stonehill.

A 1971 graduate of Bridgewater State (Mass.) College, Sullivan served as the Head Women's Basketball Coach at Stonehill for 25 years from 1971 through 1996. Over that time span, the Skyhawks posted an overall record of 479-159 (.751) and captured six Northeast-10 Conference championships. Sullivan's squads recorded winning seasons during all of her campaigns at The Hill, and ten of those teams earned berths in the NCAA Division II Tournament.  Sullivan's most successful years came from 1993 through 1995, as Stonehill earned a spot in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in each of those seasons, advancing to the national semifinals in 1995.

A five-time selection as Northeast-10 Coach of the Year, Sullivan was honored in 1994 as the Converse/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division II National Coach of the Year.  During her career, she coached a pair of 2,000 point scorers as well as 14 1,000 point scorers, and two Skyhawks earned Division II All-America accolades.  She retired in March 1996 as the winningest Division II women's basketball coach in New England history and still ranks 14th in NCAA Division II history for winning percentage and 24th in wins.

Sullivan is a member of six Halls of Fame, including her alma maters at Archbishop Williams High School and Bridgewater State University. She is a charter member of the Stonehill Athletics Hall of Fame and has also been enshrined in the Northeast-10 Conference, New England Basketball Coaches and New Agenda Northeast Halls of Fame. Sullivan has also honored as recipient of Dr. Catherine Comeau Award for Professional Achievement from Bridgewater State, the Moreau Medallion Award for significant contribution to Stonehill’s success in the first 50 years and the Gaudete Medal for long and distinguished service to Stonehill. She has also collected the Easton (Mass.) Chamber of Commerce Community Award and the Pathfinder Award from the Massachusetts Association of Physical Education, Health, Recreation and Dance for her contributions to women's athletics.

With 20 intercollegiate sports, Stonehill boasts one of the top athletic and academic programs in the country. The Skyhawks have finished in the top three in the final NE-10 Presidents' Cup standings ten straight years, including a second place finish in 2013-14, winning the Cup four times, including a streak of three-straight from 2009-10 through 2011-12. This prestigious award is given to the top performing athletic school in the Northeast-10, across all sports and seasons. Stonehill has received the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Achievement each of the first three years of the program's existence of honoring programs with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 90-percent or better. The Skyhawks have earned a 97% Academic Success Ranking (ASR) by the NCAA, which considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes, good for fifth among all NCAA Division II institutions, with ten Skyhawk teams receiving a perfect rating of 100%. In addition, the Skyhawks are ranked sixth in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs. Stonehill has also been the host site for the 2016 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships at W.B. Mason Stadium.

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