Romano named Head Basketball Coach at CCRI

The Community College of Rhode Island has announced the hiring of Mike Romano as its new head men’s basketball coach, only the fifth in the program’s 58-year history dating back to 1965.

Romano has spent the past two and a half years at CCRI as the Athletics, Recreation and Wellness Departments Compliance Coordinator and brings a wealth of coaching experience to the men’s basketball program. A Pawling, NY, native and Glocester, RI, resident, Romano has coached at Rhode Island College, Bard College, Alfred University, and Hartwick College in addition to his role with various Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball tournaments and organizations.

“I am extremely excited to announce Mike Romano as the fifth head men’s basketball coach at the Community College of Rhode Island,” said Director Athletics, Recreation and Wellness Ashley Casiano. “His accomplishments as a coach, passion for excellence, and commitment to building student-athletes on and off the court firmly align with the goals of our department. We look forward to the Romano era of men’s basketball at CCRI.”

Romano joins a short, but accomplished, list of men’s basketball coaches in CCRI’s illustrious history, including Hall of Famer Vin Cullen, who won more than 700 games and 10 regional championships in addition to taking the Knights to the national championship game in 1991 during his tenure between 1965 and 2002, and Rick Harris, who also brought CCRI to the national championship game in 2012 and won 301 games in 15 seasons before parting ways with the college in 2022.

“I’m super excited,” Romano said. “When I joined CCRI back in 2021, I didn’t expect things would line up the way they have, but everything happens for a reason and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to building the program back up. I wasn’t actively looking for a coaching role, but CCRI is a special place and has such a rich tradition of history in intercollegiate athletics in New England that when the opportunity presented itself, it was impossible to pass up.  

“I am the fifth head men’s basketball coach in CCRI history. There are some basketball programs that have had five head coaches in the last five years, so I am truly honored to be in this position. 

“I never demand perfection, but I am going to demand the absolute highest level of effort from my student-athletes every day on and off the court. I want to be respected around the region for who we are as a program as well as what we accomplish in the win/loss column.”

Romano earned his Bachelor of Science in History from Western Connecticut State University in 2010 and his Master of Education (M.Ed.) in 2012 from Marist College, where he was a graduate manager for the school’s Division I basketball program. 

In 2012, he earned his first coaching job as an assistant at RIC, where the Anchormen won two Little East Conference championships to earn a spot in the Division III NCAA Tournament and appeared in the conference title game in three of his four seasons behind the bench. In his role as an assistant, Romano recruited multiple Little East All-Rookie Team and All-Conference selections, including 2012–13 All-American Tahrike Carter. The 2012–13 Anchormen finished 26-4 overall – and 13-1 in conference play – and were ranked as high as 13th in the D-III national poll.

Romano also served as the associate head coach at Bard College during the 2015–16 season, spent the 2016–17 season as the assistant coach at Hartwick College, and then served three seasons as the associate head coach at Alfred University from 2017–2020. During the 2018–19 season, Romano played a key role in Alfred’s run to the D-III NCAA Tournament – the school’s first since 1997. The Saxons’ coaching staff earned Empire 8 Conference Coaching Staff of the Year honors after leading the team to 14 consecutive wins while finishing second in the conference in points allowed (71.8) and opponent shooting percentage (42.0). 

Romano’s vast recruiting ties in the northeast were instrumental in Alfred rebuilding its roster, including the addition of 2018–19 Empire 8 Rookie of the Year Elliot Bowen. At Hartwick, he was part of the coaching staff that required 2017–18 Empire 8 and East Region Rookie of the Year Kevin Townes and also recruited unanimous Liberty League All-Rookie Team selection Chris Rogers while at Bard College.

“My short-term goal is to recruit a roster that will build a great foundation in 2024–25 and set the tone for accomplishing the goals that lay ahead,” Romano said. “I really want to get on the road throughout Rhode Island and make sure all the student-athletes are fully aware of the Rhode Island Promise scholarship and what a great opportunity it is to be able to continue their education and athletic career tuition free.

“You have to be here for the right reasons. We are going to have a roster of student-athletes that want to go to college, play basketball, and then move on to another college and continue their basketball career at a four-year school.

“I’ve got multiple former student-athletes that I have coached who are now coaches themselves at high schools and travel programs around the state. While nothing replaces your own eyes and ears, the next best thing is a recommendation from someone I know and trust, who knows what I stand for and what I expect of my student-athletes. So many of the championship teams I was part of at Rhode Island College and that coach Cullen and Harris had here at CCRI were built around Rhode Islanders, so I know I don’t have to go far to find talented young people who want to compete and can help us win.”

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