Claflin University has hired Robert “Tony” O’Neal as its new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. O’Neal assumed his new role on July 1, succeeding Dr. Jerome Fitch, who announced his retirement after serving 11 years in the position.
O’Neal has served at the senior administrative level of college athletics for more than two decades, including stints at Bethune-Cookman University and Savannah State University. O’Neal was selected for the Claflin position after a national search.
“We are excited to have Tony join the Claflin Family,” President Dwaun J. Warmack said. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our athletics program. I am confident he will sustain and enhance Claflin’s proud legacy of success by our student-athletes in athletics and academics.”
O’Neal spent 17 years in the athletics department at Bethune-Cookman. For the past five years, he served as the senior associate athletic director of facilities and strategic initiatives. In between his time in Daytona Beach, O’Neal served as the director of athletics at Savannah State (2004-08), managing the University’s 15 intercollegiate men’s and women’s athletic teams.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a thriving athletic program,” O’Neal said. “Claflin’s amazing history and its commitment to success are impressive. I will do my best to keep Panther teams competing on a level that will continue to bring pride to the University and supporters of the athletics program.”
Currently, O’Neal serves as the NCAA Chair of the National Bowling Committee. He has spent years participating in NCAA leadership programs. He was selected for the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males in 2002, and he completed the NCAA Fellows Leadership Development Program in 2003. O’Neal also spent years interpreting NCAA bylaws for Bethune-Cookman’s 17 sports.
O’Neal will join Marilynn Stacey-Suggs, another former SSU athletics director at Claflin. Stacey Suggs, who has worked at Claflin since 2014, was the AD at Savannah State from 2010-11. Currently, Stacey-Suggs is Claflin’s Associate Athletics Director, Senior Woman Administrator and Director of Compliance.
Fitch served at the SSU athletics director from 1998-2000..
O’Neal received his bachelor’s degree in social welfare at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and he earned his master’s degree in transformative leadership from Bethune-Cookman University. O’Neal and his wife, Bonnie, have six daughters and six grandchildren.