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Panelist Bio


Rob Bernardi
Director of Athletics, Nicholls State University

Rob Bernardi is in his 11th season as director of athletics at Nicholls State. Since arriving in Thibodaux, Bernardi has aimed at increasing funding, improving facilities and enhancing the student-athlete experience.

Bernardi helped organize the renewal of a self-assessed student fee to help support Nicholls athletics. It was the first time in more than two decades that student-athletes received funding directly from student fees. The added funding in conjunction with increased private support has helped improve Nicholls athletics facilities.

Bernardi's tenure has been marked by Improved gradation rates and upgrading the academic services provided to Colonel athletes. The commitment to academics has begun to show positive results in the form of higher graduation rates and improved APR (Academic Progress Rates) scores. Colonel athletes are graduating at increasingly higher rates than ever before.

Bernardi is credited with bringing the Manning Passing Academy to Nicholls State University. The football camp, which features Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning, has brought national attention to the Thibodaux community. Entering its sixth year on the Nicholls campus, MPA attracts nearly 1,200 young athletes to Nicholls and has become a summer attraction for the community.

Bernardi has been active within the NCAA governance structure having served on numerous NCAA committees. Currently Rob Bernardi is a member of the Division I Football Championship Committee and also holds a seat on the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification. In the past he has served on the NCAA Interpretations Committee and the Division I Academics/Eligibility/Compliance Cabinet.
Prior to coming to Nicholls, Bernardi spent ten years in varying capacities at the New Orleans-based Sun Belt Conference. During the last three years of his stay, he was the league's associate commissioner, coordinating and implementing marketing and promotional efforts related to the conference. He also worked hand-in-hand with other conferences, covering such topics as development and corporate relations. His responsibilities also included coordinating the Sun Belt's voting position on all NCAA legislation.

Prior to joining the Sun Belt Conference, Bernardi spent four years at the University of Arizona involved in athletics administration. While at Arizona, Bernardi worked under former NCAA president Cedric Dempsey, Dempsey was the athletics director at Arizona during the time.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Bernardi was a graduate assistant football coach at both the University of Arizona and Oregon State. While at Oregon State, he earned a master's degree in higher education. He earned an undergraduate degree in public health from California State University, Northridge in 1983.

Rob has two daughters Nadine (25), Jenna (14), and is the grandfather of Emma (5). Bernardi's brother, Gary, is also involved in collegiate athletics serving as an assistant football coach at San Jose State.

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