Sharief Hashim said he will be doing a lot of listening when he takes over as Susquehanna’s director of athletics on July 1.
“The first year is really about learning and meeting as many people as possible,” Hashim said. “I want to learn as quickly as possible about the campus, community and culture. As quickly as you can accelerate the learning curve, you can start to affect change in positive ways.
“Sometimes not much has to change. I feel that way about Susquehanna. They have a lot of successful programs, and I want to learn how I can best support them.”
Hashim, currently the director of athletics and physical education at the State University of New York at Potsdam, said he plans to arrive in Selinsgrove in the middle of next week ahead of beginning his responsibilities with the River Hawks.
“It’s been incredibly busy trying to transition,” Hashim said. “I keep finding more and more things to do here before I leave.”
‘It’s a great opportunity’
Hashim said there was a lot that was attractive about Susquehanna.
“Growing up in the D.C. area, I was familiar with the Susquehanna athletic brand, and Susquehanna has high academics,” Hashim said. “It’s a great balance of the two. ... It checked a lot of boxes for me.”
He said he wasn’t looking to leave SUNY-Potsdam, but learning more about the opening at Susquehanna changed his mind.
“It was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Hashim said. “I’ve been here two years — I hadn’t planned on only being here two years — but it’s a great opportunity. As I investigated and talked to some of my mentors, the momentum was building and it made more and more sense.”
Susan Lantz, vice president for the Division of Student Life at Susquehanna, said Hashim was a “perfect fit” for Susquehanna.
“Sharief’s contagious energy and ability to motivate others was apparent throughout the search process, and I appreciate his demonstrated ability to mentor and advocate for students and coaches,” Lantz said.
Called to the court
Hashim said early on he wanted to be a basketball coach.
“I was a very good role player at the high school level, which meant I didn’t play a lot,” Hashim said with a laugh. “I knew at 15 years old that I wanted to be a basketball coach. I had the foresight to realize I probably wasn’t going to play in college. At 21, I was coaching junior varsity high school basketball. I spent 14 years coaching at the high school level, and I had a lot of fun.”
Hashim, who also has a background in local government recreation, then moved into the college coaching ranks.
“You think you’re going to coach for X-amount of years, and then look for an opportunity to move into athletic administration,” Hashim said. “Then I became the interim AD at Southern Vermont, and they removed the interim tag. On my second day as interim AD, I knew I didn’t want to coach again.”
The Southern Vermont men’s basketball team went 49-8 during the two seasons Hashim was an assistant coach. He served as the interim women’s basketball coach for part of a season as well.
“I was always someone who took a lot of pride in student-athletes receiving diplomas, receiving degrees — more than success on the court,” Hashim said. “In an administrative role, I can help more young people than just the basketball players.
“Helping young people be successful off the playing surface is what I really love about my job.”
Prepared to adapt
Hashim said he has some plans for the beginning of his tenure at Susquehanna, but he won’t really know where he should focus until he gets to campus.
“It’s a unique time,” Hashim said. “The way it works is you plan for different scenarios, but a week from now, it could be completely different. You have to be flexible and remain poised. That’s something we teach our student-athletes — to be poised on the court and ready to make changes as needed.”
He added that the key to being successful will be how quickly he learns and establishes relationships.
“I want to be an asset to the campus community,” Hashim said. “I fashion myself as someone who is effective at connecting with people. ... That’s something I take a lot of pride in.”