Jim Pignataro is in his 12th year as the Associate Athletic Director for Student Services and Director of Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) and his 16th year overall at Michigan State University (MSU). His duties include: Overseeing the operations of the Clara Bell Student-Athlete Academic Center which houses 12 full-time employees, two graduate assistants and over 85 tutors; Overseeing Athletics Department units Athletic Training and Strength and Conditioning; and is the Athletic Director’s liaison to MSU Sports Medicine. Under Pignataro’s guidance, MSU’s sports teams academically have posted record cumulative grade point averages ranging from 2.9573 to 3.0500 as well as posted the Program’s highest NCAA graduation rate of 86%. During his tenure student-athletes have posted the largest number of sports with a 3.00 cumulative team grade point average or higher at 16 (70%). In addition, the highest number of student-athlete maintaining a 3.00 CUM GPA (403) came after the Fall 2012 term. The Spring 2013 term produced the highest department GPA of 3.0506, and 57 student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.00 grade point average.
Community outreach and service have been a priority for Pignataro’s program placing over 300 student-athletes in outreach activities during the 2012-13 academic year. Now in its ninth year, the outreach initiative called PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together) has reached over 100,000 area children as well as touched the lives of many.
Pignataro’s vision on diversity programming has had a significant impact on the daily lives of student-athletes. In 2003, he created the Student-Athlete Multicultural Center, which now provides quality leadership programming for MSU student-athletes as well as provide social and outreach programs. The mission of the program is to provide student-athletes with cultural and diversity experiences that enhances their professional growth, development, and leadership. The Program is designed to collaborate with campus resources, elevate the academic success of student-athletes and increase the campus involvement of student-athletes. The Program has seen measurable increases in African-American male semester GPA as well as increases in year-to-year retention.
Currently, Pignataro serves as President-Elect of the National Association of Athletic Advisors for Athletics (N4A). His N4A committee work also consists of Director At-Large for Certification (2010-2012), Co-Chairing the Individual Certification Committee (2010-12) and Finance Committee (2010-2013).
No stranger to Michigan State, Pignataro served as the Assistant to the Director of SASS and Athletic Academic Coordinator at MSU from 1996-2000. He left MSU to serve as the Assistant Athletic Director for Academics at Eastern Michigan University from June 2000 to June 2002. Prior to MSU, the he also worked in Athletic Academic Services at Florida State University (1995-96) and the University of Tennessee (UT) (1994-1995). Born in Queens, N.Y., Pignataro grew up in Raymond, Maine, and graduated from Gray-New Gloucester High School in 1990. He was a multi-year varsity letterwinner in baseball at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). He received his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Business Administration and Economics from UMF in 1994 and a master’s degree in athletics administration from UT in 1995. Pignataro is married to the former Alana Inkala, who competed on MSU’s women’s tennis team, and has two children Alison and James.