Central Connecticut State University named Brian Barrio the new director of athletics, it was announced Thursday.
Barrio, who is originally from Lyme, was an intern at CCSU in 2003 at the beginning of his career in athletics.
"I am honored that Central Connecticut State University, President (Zulma R.) Toro, and the entire search committee have given me this opportunity," Barrio said. "As someone who grew up here, with memories of watching games at Detrick Gymnasium as a kid and who had my first internship in college athletics at Central, I do not take the responsibility of this position lightly. I am intent on giving our student-athletes and coaches the support they need to continue competing for championships and serving as a rallying point for the CCSU community, as well as for the city of New Britain."
Barrio was most recently at the University of Nevada as senior associate director of athletics for intercollegiate services and a special assistant to the president. While at Nevada, Barrio created an academic risk assessment process that helped the school earn a perfect 1000 progress rate score in men’s basketball and football.
While Barrio said the academic programs he created aren’t one-size-fits-all, he believes he’ll implement some version of them at CCSU in an attempt to more closely connect the athletic department with the rest of the university.
“The public sees what happens on the playing field. The piece for me that’s an immediate goal is really developing closer ties with the institution, bringing athletics together with the rest of the institution,” Barrio said. “It’s very important that we see athletics as a part of student-athletes’ education. It’s very important that the student-athletes are truly students, that they’re leaving there with an education, that they’re being developed as young men and women. … A huge goal is really integrating them into the fabric of the institution. We want to make sure we use athletics to support the goals of President Toro and of the institution.”
Barrio will face challenges in his first year on the job, as CCSU recently announced the end of the golf programs along with scholarship cuts. While funding is an issue that’s plaguing many in the world of college athletics and higher education in general, Barrio believes there are ways to maintain the success of the remaining programs.
“In terms of the future, I think it’s very bright,” Barrio said. “There’s absolutely a sustainable way forward. If you look at it, they won numerous conference championships this past year and they’ve had a successful program on the field and that hasn’t changed, and that’s not going to change. What we’re going to do is work really hard on figuring out how to give these coaches and student-athletes the resources they need to keep winning championships. It’s absolutely achievable and something we can do.”
The Connecticut native has had plenty of experience in athletic administration and compliance, gaining a wealth of knowledge that he’ll use to help CCSU’s athletic department. Prior to Nevada, he spent time as the associate director of athletics at Pepperdine University, the director of compliance at the University of South California and worked in the compliance area at the American East Conference and the Ivy League.
Barrio has already begun reaching out to people in the CCSU community, making plans for the future. As he readies to make the move back to Connecticut, he hopes his local roots will help the university remain a local institution.
“I grew up there and in my heart I never really left,” Barrio said. “I’ve always been someone with deep roots there, very connected with the people there and my family. In my mind this is a pretty natural path home, and I think at a place like Central Connecticut, it’s such a deeply local institution and regional institution and so connected with New Britain and Connecticut that being a Connecticut native will really help me connect with the community there.”
Toro announced Barrio’s hiring on Thursday with high hopes for the new hire and the future of the athletic department.
"We are very pleased to welcome Brian and his family as the newest members of our Central family," Toro said in the announcement. "Brian's objectives and priorities for CCSU and our athletics department stood out to the committee and myself during the search process. We are excited to welcome him back to Connecticut, and we are confident that he will build upon the successful foundation of our Blue Devils athletics tradition."
Barrio’s first day as director of athletics will be Aug. 10.