“My vision is to utilize Fordham athletics to elevate the entire institution, to elevate applications, and to be the leader in diversity and inclusion,” he said. “I want us to be a source of school spirit, school pride. I want athletics to support every pillar and priority of Educating for Justice, the University strategic plan.”
Kull, who joined Fordham four years ago as senior director of development for athletics and senior associate athletic director, now oversees Fordham’s 23 varsity sports programs, about 100 coaches and staff, and more than 500 student-athletes. And he reports directly to the president of the University, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., who has praised Kull for his “commitment to excellence” and “the ease with which he connects with all areas of the University.”
“The culture and environment that I’d like to create and build within athletics is one that’s inclusive for the entire campus,” Kull said. “I want to very much engage the rest of the University, as well as our alumni.”
And while the pandemic has been a challenging time for athletics departments across the country, with games and tournaments canceled and teammates going months without being able to practice together, Kull said he took the opportunity to solidify University-wide engagement and focus on student-athletes’ needs.
“Within six months, I had those kinds of relationships with every department on campus because of what we’ve had to go through, because of how we had to help each other … make sure the best interest of the student is taking place, whether that be mentally, emotionally, or physically,” Kull said. And students have responded with initiatives like Fordham Connect, a student-run group that “aims to erase the stigma around vulnerability in sport.”
“How do we talk about the whole Fordham experience from a student-athlete perspective?” Kull said. “Not just success on the playing field, but success in the classroom, and then career services and job placement.”
Not one to leave his fundraising background completely behind, Kull also hopes to bolster giving in support of athletics and has already launched the Men’s Basketball New Era Fund, which has received $1.3 million in gifts and pledges.
As for success on the playing field, Kull is hoping to build on recent conference titles, including ones in women’s basketball, men’s soccer, and baseball. Among his first big moves as athletics director was hiring Kyle Neptune as the new men’s basketball head coach.
“He knows what it takes to recruit, develop, and evaluate talent,” Kull said of Neptune, “and then bring on student-athletes that not only will have success on the basketball court but also make us very proud in terms of our Jesuit mission and values of education, service, and leadership.”