PROVIDENCE — "What you do for a living is pretty cool."
“I get that a lot,” said Bob Driscoll, Providence College’s athletic director. “My job looks like a fun job and it is, but it’s 24/7. It’s not a 9-to-5 deal. It has to be something you’re really passionate about and be willing to commit to give things up.
“When people hear that, they realize there’s another side. Maybe they don’t want to make that commitment,” Driscoll added, “but there have been people during my career who have been willing to make the commitment and gone on to become successful athletic directors at the high school and college levels.”
Perhaps someday, Emmitt Holt will be the latest Driscoll protégé to make his mark as the primary overseer of an entire athletic department. If that does prove to be the case, the basketball player who overcame a downright scary ordeal to once again suit up for the Friars knows exactly whom to thank first.
“A lot of times, a kid can come out of college where they have the education, but if you don’t have someone to point you in the right direction, you run the risk of running aimlessly,” said Caroline Logins-Simpson, Emmitt’s mother. “I appreciate Mr. Driscoll taking Emmitt under his wing.”
So you want to be an AD, preferably at a college or university?
“That would be a dream,” said Emmitt Holt, who always considered Driscoll a mentor since his arrival at PC in 2016.
It wasn’t until Holt expressed his desire to become an athletic director to Driscoll that the former saw the latter as the mentor of all mentors.
Already a PC graduate, Holt was working toward earning his master’s degree in counseling when the ante was raised considerably on his already-solid relationship with Driscoll, who kept a close vigil on Holt during the fall of 2017 when a fight for the youngster’s well-being resulted in a life-saving abdominal procedure.
“We had a couple of conversations about what I wanted to do in terms of when I actually put the ball down. More and more conversations were had and this was one of the things that was brought up,” Holt said.
“Mr. Driscoll is not just a coach in terms of helping where I want to be, that being an athletic director, but just a life coach in general. He’s been through so many trials and tribulations himself and came up on top. I admire him greatly for that. We have a lot of similarities and we just clicked. I’m blessed to have someone like Bob Driscoll in my corner.”
From Driscoll’s vantage point, Holt checks off a lot of boxes that a school would want to see in its athletic director.
“I think he would be a phenomenal AD because he fits the mold perfectly … an old-school AD who was actually an athlete. If you’re a student-athlete or a coach, you have a better insight into how that particular world works. You come from the locker room and understand the world they’re in. There are a lot of ADs who never played or coached. That’s not to say they can’t do the job and do it properly, but there’s something about putting the uniform on,” said Driscoll, Providence’s AD since 2001.
“With Emmitt being a young and dynamic African-American male with charisma and what he went through as a person … his story about grit and toughness is very powerful. Plus, he has a passion for it. I told him I would help him in any way I can to achieve his dream and teach him what I know so that he has that opportunity.”
Holt thought he knew Driscoll pretty well as the AD who would frequently stop by basketball practice to stay hello, enter the locker room after games, and be part of the traveling party for road contests. In no time, Holt saw Driscoll in a completely different light — the kind that allows an understudy to become better equipped to deal with the demanding nature of being an AD at a Division I institution.
“I knew he always loved the [basketball] team and everything that we did, but I also knew he had a job of his own. I knew he couldn’t always go on every road trip, but that’s because he had other responsibilities. All the sports at the school are his priority. Being who he is, he wanted to make sure everyone felt his love and respect,” Holt said.
“He has to make a lot of important and life-changing decisions. I respect what he has to do that much more because of that. A situation may seem small to someone but it may be large to an someone else. Just having a mindset where you take all factors into consideration before making decisions, those were teachable moments that Mr. Driscoll stressed to me.”
Driscoll urged Holt to ingrain himself within the Friar on-campus athletic community. By breaking away from his familiar basketball cocoon, Holt was able to “fall in love with sports” that were once foreign to him. It became common to see him at field hockey and ice hockey games.
“One thing about Mr. Driscoll is that he didn’t hand me a blueprint," Holt said. "He came to me and asked what I wanted to do and how we could make it work. That’s the kind of relationship we have. He encouraged me to get involved in the school, which looking back was a significant game-changer.”
All the while, Holt kept hearing from Driscoll that “becoming an [athletic director] served my personality well.”
As someone who enjoys interacting with all walks of life, Driscoll believed that as part of Holt’s apprenticeship his shouldn’t be the sole voice. Informational meetings and interviews were set up with PC officials as well as Brown University athletic director Jack Hayes.
“I wanted him to get an understanding of how the organization runs. He only sees a part of it, but that’s the great thing about sports. You try to help other people on your team,” Driscoll said. “There were those who helped pull me up by the bootstraps and I’m trying to do that for Emmitt. He allowed me to engage as both a teacher and a coach.”
“He can have a 20-minute conversation with someone he just met. That’s something I admire about Mr. Driscoll,” Holt said. “I really got to know in great detail what I was getting myself into.”
In terms of the next phase of Holt’s AD pursuit, Driscoll noted that more schooling (master’s degree in athletic administration, which is a two-year program) and additional hands-on experience — the program would allow him to work in the athletic department, whether it’s media relations, marketing, promotions or fundraising — would serve him well in the long run.
“Imagine him walking into a room … good looking, smart and articulate. He absolutely would crush it,” Driscoll said.
Stated Holt, “I feel like if we take our time with this, we’re going to get exactly what we want. Once I get my foot in the actual door, I believe everything else will take care of itself.”
Such confidence on Holt’s part comes from having a backer of Driscoll’s caliber.
“The gratitude that I have towards him for really opening up my eyes … I can’t thank Mr. Driscoll enough,” Holt said.