After less than a year as president and CEO of the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), Bob Sullivan is stepping down from the organization that operates Nathan Benderson Park, according to multiple sources.
Sullivan submitted his letter of resignation to the SANCA board of directors ahead of the board’s monthly meeting, which was scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday. Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer, who is not on the board of directors, informed county commissioners by email of the resignation less than an hour later.
“I understand he is planning to stay on at least through the World Rowing Championships and maybe through the end of the year,” Harmer wrote to the county commissioners. “I understand this was discussed at the SANCA board meeting this afternoon.”
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A source at Nathan Benderson Park, who was not authorized to speak to the media, indicated a public announcement was expected Thursday.
Sullivan took over as the nonprofit organization’s president in August. He previously managed Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls, Texas, before retiring to Manatee County a few months before the SANCA president position opened. He was one of more than 60 applicants and was selected unanimously as the second president in SANCA history.
“The foundation is here,” Sullivan told the Herald shortly after he was hired. “Now it’s a matter of taking it to that next level. That’s very exciting, and it’s always nice to be able to go into a community and make a lasting impact on the quality of life of that community.”
Phone calls to Sullivan, SANCA board chairman Bill Robinson and SANCA marketing and communications manager Melissa Mitchell were not immediately returned.
I understand he is planning to stay on at least through the World Rowing Championships and maybe through the end of the year.
Tom Harmer, Sarasota County administrator
During the past year, Benderson Park has served as the host site to a series of marquee events leading up to the upcoming World Rowing Championships (Sept. 23-Oct. 1). The park played host to the U.S. Olympic trials last year. It was named the host site for two more NCAA championships (2021, 2022) to go with the 2018 event already scheduled. And the facility will host the USRowing Youth National Championships (June 9-11). It continues to host high school state championships, doing so for the ninth time at the end of April. And it played host to the American Athletic Conference rowing championships this past weekend.
The park has also undergone facilities upgrades in preparation for the world championships with a new finish tower nearing completion.
The world championships will be the park’s largest undertaking and mark their first return to the United States since 1994. Thousands of competitors are expected to descend upon Bradenton and Sarasota for more than a week.