I like Gene DeFilippo. I really do. Having said that, I will acknowledge that we have had our disagreements on a variety of issues.
DeFilippo’s announcement of his retirement as the Boston College athletic director after 15 years on the job was not a shock. Not even a surprise.
DeFilippo had been dealing with a variety of issues, some athletic, which is not surprising considering the tumble the football program and the men’s and women’s basketball program took last season.
That is part of the job and it was not a secret in the inner sanctums of the BC athletic department that the leash that Gene and BC football coach Frank Spaziani were on was getting shorter and shorter.
There were other issues. DeFilpppo is being treated for a melanoma on his nose which is always serious stuff.
But there were other concerns. It is the start of another athletic season at the Heights and DeFilippo already was worn out. Looming was the potential of changes on the football staff if a winning season was not produced by Coach Frank Spaziani. The men’s and women’s basketball programs were in the rebuilding mode. There were other fires about a decline in season-ticket holders. Fires were starting to burn in other areas.
Did DeFilippo want to fight that fight any more after having built so many things? Would DeFilippo be consumed by it, with fund raising just part of what seemed like a 24-7 365 day a year job?
So it was time for DeFilippo to reconsider his options. He will step down as the Athletic director at BC on Sept. 30th and get some work as a sports consultant. He could teach a course in sports management at BC.
His legacy at BC will include an upgrading of facilities and the move into the Atlantic Coast Conference by the Eagles. I give that move a grade of C plus. Competitively, with no local rivals, with limited and sporadic success in the revenue producing sports other than hockey where Jerry York has built a dynasty–but that does not fall in the ACC shadow–BC probably deserves a D at best.
Financially, its an A plus. More money is flowing into BC athletically than ever before. Gene was and is a good fundraiser. He knows people and he knows how to tell stories.
He could tell the story of more than a decade ago about how he and former Florida State athletic director Dave Hart met in the lobby of the hotel of an athletic director’s meeting in Florida and started to put in place the plan for BC to move from the Big East to the ACC.
He could tell the story of the time when he was at a hotel in New York City during the Big East basketball tournament and over a cigar and an adult beverage he talked about his final working role might be as commissioner of the Big East conference.
He was called “Coach Flip” by many BC athletes because he was always around the practice field and in the locker room. Some times that worked for him, sometimes it worked against him.
He had his disagreements, which is one of the main reasons why former BC assistant coaches and former BC football players such as Jim Turner and Jack Bicknell Jr. Both are no longer working at BC.
Last fall he talked openly and candidly about the ACC expansion and how he opposed the addition of Connecticut as a potential ACC addition. He talked about ESPN’s influence and later was forced to publicly apologize for some of his statements–which was a tough one for Gene to accept because he was basically apologizing for telling the truth.
The irony of this is that it wasn’t all that long ago when Gene and former UConn athletic director Lew Perkins played golf and socialized on a regular basis that Gene talked about having an annual end of the season or begin the season game against the Huskies, feeling it would be good for both schools and good for the college football fans in New England.
Stuff happens. Things change.
He hired coaches. He fired coaches. Coaches such as former women’s basketball coach Cathy Ingelse, former football coach Tom O’Brien and former men’s basketball coach Al Skinner, all who had established their credentials and built solid winning program at BC, left with bad tastes in their mouth.
He had a disagreement with one of BC’s strongest financial boosters, Greg Barber–who contributed so much money to the school that the football coach’s position is endowed by Barber who now makes his contributions to the University of Rhode Island and probably N.C. State.
DeFilippo was fond of saying that nothing is bad as it seems or as good as it seems.
You could make the same statement about Gene’s BC’s career at The Heights. He did some great stuff, taking BC to places it had only dreamed of reaching.
He did some things that just made people scratch their heads in dismay.
Now it is time to move on. John Kane and Barry Gallup will be running the day-to-day operation of the athletic department. Both are good, quality people who will bust their butts to make BC better.
What happens beyond the next few months remains to be seen. Kane has the role of interim and knows his business as well as anyone.
There isn’t a more loyal BC guy than Barry Gallup.
For DeFilippo it will be time to do something else, something different. Hopefully, his health will allow him to do that.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.