OSWEGO — Eric Summers will be tasked with helping guide Oswego State teams back into action during his second stint as interim director of athletics.
Summers was named to the position June 1 following the retirement of former athletic director Sue Viscomi — repeating a scenario that played out last summer — and will aim to provide stability at the top of the department as all Lakers sports programs start to map out their eventual returns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Summers has served as SUNY Oswego’s associate athletic director since June 2014 and will temporarily fill the role vacated by Viscomi while the college prepares to launch a national search.
“I knew it was coming when we had to shut things down in March, so I’ve had a few months to prepare and get my head around stepping into this role,” Summers said during a recent phone interview.
“We lost the spring season and trying to navigate this pandemic and trying to get us back in operation again is really the biggest challenge, that’s taking up most of our time,” he added. “Beyond that, I’ll just be trying to help the department keep moving forward.”
Summers was also named interim director of athletics at this time last year when Viscomi planned to retire, but the initial search proved unsuccessful and Viscomi agreed to return for the 2019-20 school year.
The college was again in the early stages of gathering candidates for Viscomi’s successor when COVID-19 abruptly ended the spring season and shut down the campus, also putting a halt on all non-essential hiring processes.
“Sue Viscomi made a substantial impact on Oswego State athletics during her seven-year tenure as director of athletics,” said Oswego vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, Jerri Howland. “We wish her well in retirement and thank her for her work with the administration, faculty, and coaches, and tireless efforts over the years in developing student-athletes who strive for exemplary academic achievement, competitive success, and a commitment to serve the communities in which they live.”
Summers has taken over during an unprecedented period and experienced a whirlwind in less than three weeks in the position. He said most of that time has been spent developing plans to re-open athletic facilities and he has submitted a plan that is currently being reviewed by the state.
“We’re making plans, we’ve got contingency plans, and we’re in a wait and see mode now to see what’s going to happen, how we’re going to be able to proceed in the future,” Summers said. “We want to be able to react to it quickly and make sure that we can get open and have our athletes compete again.”
Summers said the Oswego State’s plan to return is flexible and he hopes larger Division I institutions that have started allowing athletes back on campus for voluntary summer workouts can help provide a potential blueprint.
“I’m working on the assumption that we’ll be moving forward, so we’re getting rosters all set for next year and getting prepared for what’s coming,” Summers said. “As the health and safety task force, we’re working on trying to figure out if we were to re-open, how would that look? I expect that things will change over the course of the summer, so we’ll be making changes to that plan. At least we have a starting point right now, and over the next couple of months, we’ll be monitoring the situation.”
Prior to the start of his tenure at Oswego State six years ago, Summers spent more than a decade as the head crew coach for Hamilton College and has extensive background as a collegiate crew coach.
The 1991 graduate of Colgate University obtained his MBA from the Syracuse University School of Management. Summers lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Robin, and two sons, William and Daniel.
“I have some experience working with the coaches, we have a great staff, and I know how things run here and we’ll continue operating as before,” Summer said. “The big challenge is going to be with this pandemic and how we get through it.”