By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
Over the past couple of seasons, the Duquesne women’s basketball team has been slowly evolving into one of the Atlantic 10’s premier programs thanks to head coach Dan Burt.
Since Burt arrived in 2013, the Red & Blue have been on the fringe of making the NCAA Tournament. In order to push his squad over the hump, Burt was going to need some assistance and got it when his team hired Melissa Franko last month to serve as its director of basketball operations.
As the director of basketball operations, Franko will help oversee many different projects and events like volunteer activities and alumni interaction.
Much of Franko’s experience stems from working in marketing, event planning and fundraising as well as in media and event production industries. She also worked as the marketing director of WYEP, one of the top National Public Radio (NPR) music stations in America.
A Duquesne alum, Franko graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 1995 and was involved with a number of school-related programs. En route to her current job, Franko came back to the Bluff to work on her MBA and while contributing as a graduate-assistant, she began to develop some of her current projects. There is one, however, that she is particularly excited about.
“I have expanded our Sideline Coaches Program, where we bring in community and business leaders, both alumni and not, to be positive role models and connections for our players,” Franko said. “The SLC says a few words in the locker room before the game and then sits with us on the bench. The goal is to get the SLC interested in us long term.”
Burt, who has known Franko for more than 15 years, said he is overjoyed to have her contributing and developing programs like the SLC.
“Melissa brings a different perspective to our basketball program,” Burt said. “Her ability to engage people from all backgrounds will benefit not only our student-athletes, but our entire athletic department. We are getting a media and marketing professional who will be a big part of us moving the Duquesne women’s basketball brand forward in the coming years.”
While Franko has much to accomplish in her first year, she is ready to take on the challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing to build my relationships with the student-athletes and fans of our women’s basketball program,” Franko said. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of one of the most successful Division I teams of the last decade.”