Professor Launches Prison Athlete Project

Sports Management adjunct professor Ernie DiStefano, M.S., CSC, CSPC, has quite the impressive resume. As a former sports agent, baseball scout for the Phillies and Royals, professional pitching prospect for the Cincinnati Reds, author, arbitrator for the Criminal Division of the Family Court (Del.), and psycho-forensic evaluator for the Office of the Public Defender (Del.) — he has really done it all. As if that weren't enough, DiStefano, who is now a sports and pastoral counselor, is responsible for founding and coordinating the Delaware Prison Athlete Project.

“We provide counseling and assistance to adult athletes experiencing legal issues, who are incarcerated, and who have been identified as having collegiate or professional-level athletic skills,” DiStefano said. “Our goal is to promote their overall rehabilitation by assisting them with advancing their sports careers, with the overriding purpose of preventing crime.”

Part of the process, he explained, is to have inmates complete a list of personal or family goals, athletic goals, and educational or career goals, along with an action plan to achieve those goals.

“My objective is to get the inmates into the habit of employing on a daily basis the actions that lead to achievement of their athletic goals,” said DiStefano. “The prison administration and I are currently working on a plan to put on scrimmages and tournaments, and invite coaches and scouts into the prisons to assess these athlete-inmates” playing abilities.”

DiStefano, a Delaware Native, has also published a book, The Happy Athlete, in which he explores the experiences of several real youth athletes, including his own daughter's experiences. Additionally, the book chronicles his life as an athlete, sports agent, father, coach, and sports counselor.

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