PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Chris Bisignano said he spent the last eight months in a dress rehearsal as the interim athletic director at Purchase College, after moving into the role of his mentor, Ernie Palmieri.
Bisignano had the “interim” tag removed from his title when he was selected as the new athletic director. He succeeds Palmieri, who was named vice president of student affairs in December.
The 37-year-old Bisignano, a Port Chester graduate, is in his 13th year at Purchase. He began as the softball coach and facilities manager, then moved up to assistant director of athletics and then associate director of athletics.
“I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach first, but also knew I wanted to be an athletic director,” said Bisignano, a Pace University graduate. “If I had mapped it out, this wouldn't have been the way I envisioned it, but it has certainly worked out.”
Bisignano, who coached football, wrestling and softball at Port Chester, inherits a program with 16 varsity sports and he is hoping to add more in the next few years.
Bisignano said he had a great role model and mentor in Palmieri, who has been at Purchase College since its inception in 1967.
“When I started here, we had a small handful of varsity teams,” Bisignano said. “Ernie enabled us to grow and become more competitive in Division III programs.
“Ernie set a great example. Nobody works as hard as Ernie. I learned so much from watching him do things. He cares about the kids and the school. There is nothing he doesn't do where he doesn't put the best interest of the kids and school first.”
When Palmieri left last December, Bisignano said. “He told me he would be back so keep the place afloat. He believed in me.
“When he left in December, I wanted the program to continue performing at a high level, if not higher, as it was with Ernie. He gave me a a lot of opportunities to learn and be involved in important decisions so I felt I could handle it."
Bisignano is prepared to apply what he learned from Palmieri. His interim status kept him busy and focused. The fall sports season begins the Bisignano era and he is excited.
“I love my job,” Bisignano said. “Purchase is a great place. The administration is extremely supportive and the students want to be great. I look forward to the long term and making it a great one.”