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Column: DeFilippo Kept His Word 15 Years Later

Sports Editor

Published: Monday, October 1, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


Risha G. Hess / Heights Archives

“We will win with class and lose with class, but we will have class.”

Fifteen years later, Gene DeFilippo has remained true to his word. The above is what DeFilippo said during his introductory press conference on Sept. 16, 1997, after he was introduced by University President Rev. William P. Leahy, SJ.

“We wanted to do everything we could to ensure that BC would be taken to the next level of athletics and academics,” Leahy said on that day 15 years ago.

Despite all of the criticism DeFilippo has received, especially over the last few years, he has done exactly what Leahy asked of him on his first day. From 1997 to 2012, Boston College has been taken to the next level of athletics and academics, much thanks to the leadership of DeFilippo.

Today marks the first day in 15 years that DeFilippo is not the athletic director at the Heights. A look back at Gene’s introductory press conference can provide a framework to see just how successful he was.

“I have a philosophy that I have and will continue to live by. It’s four simple, but successful steps,” DeFilippo said on the day he was hired. “First off, every decision made is going to be made with the students in mind. Secondly, we are going to be competitive in a broad-based sports program, including clubs, intramurals, and Division I. Thirdly, we will always be compliant with rules. We will live the rules with the BC spirit. Lastly, we will always do everything with the class that BC has and is known for.”

Was every decision made with the students in mind? How competitive was BC in a broad-based sports program? Has BC been compliant with the rules? And lastly, were DeFilippo’s actions made with class? He wasn’t perfect, but I’d say Coach Flip is pretty close to four for four as he could get.

DeFilippo did not want to talk to the media once he had made his decision, as to not take away attention from the football team and the start of the fall sports seasons. But I’m hopeful that after DeFilippo takes his vacation of sorts with his family, he’ll come back to Chestnut Hill and sit down to talk about his 15 years at BC. There were many challenges he encountered, but also many triumphs. It would be great to hear DeFilippo talk all of it out, mainly so that the BC community can get some insight into the mindset of BC’s mastermind of the past 15 years.

A new athletic director is expected to be named in the coming weeks. Vice president of Human Resources, Leo Sullivan, had hoped to name a new AD by today, but that is not the case. Sullivan said two weeks ago that this was their target date, but that they were not going to rush to make a decision by today if they didn’t have the right person. Apparently Sullivan and the search committee haven’t found that person yet.

For the interim, John Kane will be the athletic director. It could be for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. The longer BC waits to make a decision, the worse off the athletic department will be. It’s not a good sign that nobody has been hired for the position yet. The sooner BC can find someone to head its athletic department, the better off everyone involved will be. Changes will likely be made in various departments, and new relationships must be established. We are about to enter into a new era of BC athletics, and it would be best to get started with that now instead of having Kane be the interim AD, when nothing substantial is likely to happen.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d think that if the search committee was that enthusiastic about a candidate, or vice versa, we’d know who the new AD is by now. They haven’t found their man or woman just yet, and only time will tell who the next head of athletics at BC will be.

But when they do find that right person, we better hope that he or she is just as committed to BC as DeFilippo was. He truly cared about and loved his student athletes and his school. I’m sure DeFilippo would be the first to tell you that he’d like a few of his decisions back, but the same could be said for many ADs across the country. What can’t be said for all those ADs is the extent to which they loved their student athletes and their school.

A lot of times, wins and losses can blur your perspective on a player, coach, or administrator. But when all that clears away and you get down to the crux of what DeFilippo did, you’ll see that it was done with one thing at heart: class. BC teams have won and lost many games in the past 15 years. Class was not one of the losses. That remained true.


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