Winthrop University's profile in NCAA Division One inter-collegiate sports grew and matured through the 24 years of Dr. Anthony DiGiorgio's presidency. Team sports grew from 12 to 18, complimented by development of an athletics complex that hosts some of best comprehensive university athletics facilities in the Southeast.
The transformation of the Winthrop athletics program eventually led to President DiGiorgio serving two terms on the NCAA Board of Directors, as well as two terms as president of the Big South Conference, which in 2013 inducted him into its Hall of Fame.
Dr. DiGiorgio has likened his work nurturing the athletics program to "raising a toddler into a 30-something."
When he first arrived at Winthrop, the institution had been part of NCAA Division I athletics for just four years. He walked into a Coliseum with purple and orange seats – neither Winthrop's school colors – and found a coaching staff that was largely part-time, with some members overseeing two sports. The coaches were supported by a bare bones staff juggling multiple responsibilities. Operational budgets were tight and scholarships were minimal.
But DiGiorgio knew athletics could be a "window" through which many people could learn about Winthrop for the first time, eventually getting to know the campus's overall institutional quality and giving Winthrop name recognition nationally. That became a vision realized in 1999, when the Winthrop Eagles men's basketball team earned a first trip to the tournament known as the "Big Dance," and again in 2007, when the Eagles won not only a place in the national tournament, but also advanced to the second round by defeating powerhouse Notre Dame in a game held in Washington State.
Demonstrating a DiGiorgio maxim that "a good university is a pervasively good university", Winthrop also is known for its balanced approach to inter-collegiate athletics, focusing on excellence for student-athletes both in the classroom and in sports competitions.