Amherst, N.Y. - For the third consecutive year, Bridget Niland, director of athletics and special assistant to the president at Daemen College, has been named to the Power 100 Women, a ranking of the most influential women in Western New York published by Buffalo Business First.
After debuting in the list at No. 89 in 2015, and climbing to No. 77 last year, Niland's ascension continued with the 2017 rankings as she came in at No. 57 this time around. The list includes political leaders, judges, college and university presidents, law firm partners, health care administrators and chief executives from numerous fields, just to name a few. Niland is one of two from the intercollegiate athletics field to be included this year, joining Felisha Legette-Jack (No. 75), head women's basketball coach at the University at Buffalo (UB). In addition, Niland was the third-highest ranking individual from a private institution of higher education. The rankings were topped by Candace Johnson, president and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
"We congratulate Bridget on being included among the most influential women leaders in the Buffalo Niagara region," said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. "As Daemen's athletics director, Bridget has served our college with distinction and has made tremendous progress in developing a competitive NCAA Division II program that is committed to both academic and athletic excellence."
A member of the Daemen College faculty since 2006, Niland took over as Director of Athletics in July of 2014, guiding the College to completion of its NCAA Division II membership initiative which was announced in July of 2015. Her contributions to the initiative began with her oversight of the entire project from its initiation in 2011 as the College's Faculty Athletics Representative.
Since shifting her role to include oversight of the day-to-day operations of Daemen Athletics, Niland has played an integral part in the organization's growth and development. During her tenure, Daemen Athletics has added three varsity sport teams to its coffers - women's bowling, women's triathlon and men's volleyball. The latest addition, men's volleyball, was announced this past spring and it brings Daemen's total sport sponsorship to 17 intercollegiate programs. Niland was instrumental in landing a $60,000 grant from the MotorMVB Foundation to aid in the establishment of the program.
On her watch, the student-athlete population at Daemen is on the rise, while the focus has remained on providing an experience balanced between the rigors of athletic competition and that of high academic achievement. Daemen's student-athletes continue to achieve and be retained at a higher rate than that of the general student body. Recently, 84 student-athletes were named to the East Coast Conference (ECC) Commissioner's Honor Roll, and 68 percent of the entire student-athlete body achieved grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher during the Spring 2017 semester.
Long a champion of developing Daemen's student-athletes into well-rounded people who are engaged in activities that give back to their communities, Niland presided over an Athletic Department which was honored with the ECC Cares Award this past spring. The award is presented annually to the institution that raises the most money per student-athlete for collective community causes. In addition, Daemen's student-athletes ranked 11th among all NCAA Division II schools which participated in the 2017 NCAA Team Works Helper Helper Community Service Competition, a collaborative effort which ranked community service hours performed.
An inductee of the Athletics Hall of Fame at UB, Niland has been a strong advocate for women's athletics and the role that sport can play in the lives of young people, especially females. Her development of Daemen's observance of National Girls and Women in Sports Day has taken a dramatic upswing in recent years as its now become a week-long celebration. The 2017 celebration included on-campus appearances by Boston College Hall of Fame inductee and local litigator Kathleen Sweet as well as U.S. Paralympian April Holmes with Niland at the forefront of attracting such high-profile speakers to Daemen.
In addition to her daily responsibilities within the Athletic Department, Niland was recently appointed as chairperson of the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission and to a seat on the NCAA Division II Infractions Appeals Committee. She also maintains her role as an associate professor in Daemen's Business Administration Department, and serves as an adjunct instructor on sport law and intercollegiate athletics at UB and Niagara University.
Prior to joining the Daemen faculty, Niland worked as the associate director of academic and membership Affairs at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind., gaining experience that would prove to be invaluable to Daemen in its quest for Division II membership, as well as in attracting NCAA President Mark Emmert to campus this past spring for a town hall meeting with student-athletes. She also continues to provide consultation work to the NCAA, working primarily with schools transitioning to the Division I level of competition.
Holding Bachelor's, Master's and Law Degrees, all from UB, Niland was also recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Athena Young Professional Leadership Award. Her growing profile in the realm of intercollegiate athletics in recent years has also led to her appearance on an athletics industry podcast, receipt of the Borden Perlman Insurance Professional Development Grant from the Division II Athletic Directors Association and an appearance as a panelist at the Buffalo Business First Power Breakfast for The Business of Sports.
Power 100 Women was compiled by Buffalo Business First based on years of observing the area's business community, and represents a selection of individuals from the eight counties of Western New York.
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.