Stan Wilcox returns to Indiana to work for the NCAA
Florida State received shocking news in August when Athletic Director Stan Wilcox announced he was stepping down to become the Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the NCAA. Wilcox had a huge impact on the Seminoles, but got his start in athletics at Notre Dame as a member of the 1978 Final Four basketball team.
Wilcox was a freshman the season Notre Dame advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
He played in 92 games and 4 NCAA tourneys but none more special than that 1978 team.
"We had so many talented players on that team. But I just remember going to practice, 9000 fans watching you practice, just having a great time. And then the game itself, having an opportunity to get in the game as a freshman. And you know, at that time you feel invincible. You know you're being watched all over the country and you just want to perform well, so you go out there, you do well and do as best as you can and you think about it later and you think, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I actually played in a Final Four.' It's magical. We had a great time and all my team mates they loved it as well," Wilcox said.
Wilcox graduated from Notre Dame in 1981 and into a career in athletics, but that wasn't always his dream.
A lucky run in with an Irish colleague changed his career path.
"After my playing career, I coached for a year and then I wanted to see what kind of career I could get started. I got involved in court administration and was around judges and attorneys every day and I finally decided I needed to go to law school. After law school I decided I wanted to combine my law education and my experience as a student athlete and my experience as a coach. And I was not sure where that would be, but I ran into a former women's basketball player here, Missy Conboy, who is now a deputy athletic director here, and she at the time was working for the NCAA and she told me about the different departments that hired attorneys at the NCAA and I ended up working for the NCAA for five years and that kind of got my career in athletics started," Wilcox said.
That career path brought him back to Notre Dame where he spent 3 years as deputy athletic director putting him in position to eventually take over the role of Vice President and AD at Florida State.
He attributes a lot of his philosophy to his mentor at Notre Dame, Digger Phelps.
"We always joke about Digger and say we're all recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But, you know, Digger was a perfectionist. He was a marketer and we learned a lot from Digger. The one thing that I really learned from Digger, which is something that I use in my present career, and that is collegiate athletics is not just about on the field and on the court. It's about off the court. It's about the things that you carry with you after you graduate. It's about the education that you're getting, that's the most important thing," Wilcox said.
Wilcox really did take Digger's message to heart.
The Seminoles won national championships in football, women's soccer and softball during his tenure.
He also made academics a priority at Florida State. For the first time in school history FSU athletes combined for a cumulative 3.0 GPA.
Now his career has come full circle.
In his new role with the NCAA, he provides strategic direction to enforcement, the eligibility center and academic and membership affairs.