After Search, David Roach Named New Athletic Director



Earlier this summer, Colgate announced the hiring of David Roach to take over as its new Athletic Director. The former Brown University Athletic Director replaced Colgate’s current men’s hockey head coach, Don Vaughan, who filled the role last season in the interim following the departure of Mark Murphy in the spring of 2003. Roach, 54, officially accepted the position on June 24 following an extensive search that began two years ago when Murphy left Colgate to join Northwestern University as its Athletic Director. Roach becomes the eighth director of athletics in Colgate’s history.”It was really all about timing,” said Roach, a Springfield College graduate. “I met in Albany with Rebecca Chopp and Jack Dividio, who was the outgoing Provost and dean of the faculty. I walked away from that saying, ‘Here’s a President and an administration that is committed to supporting Division I athletics.’ And with the change to athletic scholarships, it made it an attractive position.”During its initial search for candidates during the summer of 2003, Colgate’s selection committee made efforts to land an impressive director without knowing whether the school’s Board of Trustees planned on allowing athletic scholarships. This led to office-seekers who failed to fit the university’s image, according to Chopp. When the search for a permanent athletics director began once again in January 2004, the school baited new applicants with a strategic plan that included athletic scholarships at a strong academic institution. “I’m sure that both the recent athletic successes at Colgate and the new commitment of the institution as a whole to advancing athletics not just in terms of on the playing field, but in terms of bringing in athletes who are good players and good students was very important to taking this position seriously,” said Lyle Roelofs, who replaced Dovidio in July as Dean of the Faculty and played a key role in the hiring of Roach.Colgate thought it had its man early this summer as Greg Sankey, then the Associate Commissioner of the Southeastern Athletic Conference, verbally agreed to take the vacant position. Citing personal reasons, however, Sankey backed out on the very day on which he was to be officially announced as the new Athletic Director. “He changed his mind for family reasons, from what I heard,” Roelofs said. “He thought Colgate was a good opportunity, but I gather his family thought it would hurt their options somehow.Enter Roach, who had withdrawn his application in March when it appeared he might not be the school’s top choice. In the Waterbury, CT, native, Colgate gains a man with valuable coaching experience from his days at the helm of women’s swimming teams at Brown and Tennessee, as well as a 14-year veteran at the athletics director position.”At this time he’s a perfect fit for us,” Vaughan said of his successor. “He has 14 years of experience at a great institution. He understands what it takes to succeed athletically at a school like Colgate. He’s someone that puts the student first, which in many ways is what we all try to do here.”Having been named Brown’s 13th athletics director in 1990, Roach helped guide his teams to 62 Ivy League or Eastern Championships and eight national championships. After the school was named as having one of the nation’s top 20 athletic programs by US News and World Report in 2002, Roach felt ready to take on a new project.”I’ve always been one to like new challenges and different experiences that will reinvigorate myself,” Roach said from behind his new desk. “There is an excitement in building and renovating. Even when I coached, I wasn’t a great maintainer.”Roach finds himself in a slightly more challenging league, as Colgate competes at the Division I level. Yet his experience at a university that puts academics first should ease his transition and the minds of Colgate faculty and administration alike.”It’s Division I, but there are still great students and academics,” Roach explained. “I’ve always been comfortable in a department where academics and athletics coexist and students are striving to be the best at both.” The addition of athletic scholarships by Colgate’s Board of Trustees last October provides Roach with new options that he hasn’t had since his days at Tennessee. He is sure, however, that the greatest impact of the new athletes being brought onto the campus will not be on their respective fields, but rather on the school’s overall prestige as an academic institution.”I sat at home watching the Colgate football game against Florida Atlantic,” Roach, remembered “and if they said it once, they said it a hundred times about Colgate’s great academic reputation. People realized that it’s ok to be good. It gives you great publicity.”Primary goals of the new director currently center on getting to know each member of the department; he hopes to meet individually with everyone before the end of the month. Roach showed no signs of being tentative early on, as he began reorganizing the administrative structure upon his arrival in July.”In coaching you need to coach within your own personality,” Roach said. “You can’t try to be like someone else. For me to be the Athletic Director here at Colgate, I’ve got to direct it using my own personality. That doesn’t mean anything that Mark [Murphy, Colgate AD for 11 years until 2003] or Don [Vaughan, interim AD during the 2003-04 season] did was right or wrong. But for me to be comfortable, I need to do things a certain way.”These early changes may have added to initial fears amongst Colgate coaches that their style would not fit in with that of their new overseer. But the addition of Roach also puts an end to the uncertainty of the last year.”We’ll probably start to be a little bit more comfortable when we start to see Dave’s managing style,” said Vaughan, who returns to his coaching position after stepping away from the rink and into the administrative offices last season. “But clearly having someone in that position permanently gives us a certain amount of comfort. At the same time, as coaches we’re always a little paranoid. That comes with the territory. We want to make sure that we are successful.”Success is exactly what Roach expects in the long term. But he defines his goals not along the lines of wins and losses, but rather on creating and preserving an image of Colgate that pleases players, faculty and alumni alike. “It’s almost too early to decide what my ultimate goal is here at Colgate,” Roach said. “We’ll get input from students, staff and coaches to see what they want to get out of our department. We’ll ask them what they want the image of Colgate Athletics to be.”After last year’s excitement of three Patriot League and ECAC titles along with two NCAA tournament appearances, Roach won’t have to look too hard around his new home to find raised expectations and raised hopes for Colgate’s athletic program.