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Blue Ribbon Tips, College Sports, Division I, Education

Blue Ribbon Tips: Frank McLaughlin (Fordham University)

The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm begins a new series, Blue Ribbon Tips, with insight from Frank McLaughlin, Fordham University executive director of athletics. A Blue Ribbon Tips post contains athletically-related best practices, strategies and tips for administrators from NCAA member institutions and other higher-education professionals.

Mr. McLaughlin believes issues involving funding, hiring and facilities will impact athletics programs during the next five years. Specifically, Mr. McLaughlin explains:

  • Funding: The “key is fundraising” for an athletics department.
  • Hiring: The “hiring of competent personnel—whether it is staff or coaches”— in the context of the current “tight job market” will be even more important for athletics programs.
  • Facilities: The investment in “upgrading facilities” will affect most programs.

To address these issues, Mr. McLaughlin notes it “starts at the top with the president and board of trustees”. Further, Mr. McLaughlin believes if finding solutions to athletically-related challenges are “a priority” for campus leadership, “then everyone is working on the same page”. To this end, Mr. McLaughlin explains senior administrators external to athletics need to understand “athletics is not isolated” because it “overlaps a lot of areas, including alumni relations, admissions, development, public relations”.

Finally, Mr. McLaughlin offers the following best practices and tips to assist presidents, general counsel, athletic directors and compliance personnel with enhancing athletics programs:

  • The responsibility of the president and the governing board “is to hire competent athletic directors with a strong sense of morals or ethics”. In fact, if the president and the governing board “hire competent athletics directors and fully support them, they will be successful.”
  • University “leaders have to understand the university’s mission” when “assessing athletics goals and expectations”.

 Frank McLaughlin Biography

Frank McLaughlin. It is a name that has become synonymous with Fordham University Athletics. First as a student-athlete in the 1960’s, then as an assistant basketball coach in the 1970’s and more recently for the past 23 years as the Director of Athletics.

After serving as the Director of Athletics for 13 years, McLaughlin was promoted to Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation in the spring of 1998. As the Executive Director he is responsible for the overall supervision and long-range planning of the Athletic Department and Recreational Life Programs. McLaughlin also promotes internal and external interest in the athletic program, and in conjunction with the Development Office, conducts fund-raising for athletics and the University.

In June of 2006, McLaughlin was one of 29 GeneralSports TURF Systems Athletic Directors of the Year (ADOY) by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) while last May he was inducted into the Basketball Oldtimers Hall of Fame.

McLaughlin has been busy the past nine years, overseeing the upgrading of both staff and facilities at his alma mater.

Included in the recent improvements seen at Fordham under McLaughlin’s tenure are the current renovation to Jack Coffey Field and last year’s playing surface upgrade on the Murphy Field complex. Both fields have been resurfaced with state of the art FieldTurf with Coffey Field adding lights, a baseball press box and a new scoreboard while Murphy Field, a multi-purpose athletic facility, has new tennis courts, a new softball field, and a new soccer, football and recreational field, all lighted. Other recent projects include a $2 million Rose Hill Gym renovation in the summer of 2002 which included new stands, lights, and scoreboards.

McLaughlin has also overseen the addition of eight full-time coaching positions, the promotion of several coaches from part-time to full-time status and the addition of women’s soccer and rowing as a varsity sports over the past ten years. McLaughlin was also a force in the University’s decision to move to the Atlantic 10 in 19 of their 22 varsity sports, beginning with the 1995-96 school year.

A 1969 Fordham graduate and standout basketball student-athlete, McLaughlin captained the Rams during his senior season and was drafted by the New York Knicks following graduation. He went on to become an assistant coach at the College of the Holy Cross and after a season there returned to Fordham as an assistant under Richard “Digger” Phelps in 1970-71, helping the Rams to a 26-3 record (.897) and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Fordham finished the season with a ranking of ninth in the nation.

McLaughlin moved to Notre Dame with Phelps the following year where he was a major part of the Fighting Irish’s program through his outstanding recruiting and academic guidance. He helped the Irish to consistent national rankings and NCAA Tournament bids.

In 1977, McLaughlin was named the head coach at Harvard University, where he remained for eight years. In his final season he compiled a 15-9 mark, and currently ranks in th etop five in both seasons and wins in Crimson history.

McLaughlin has served as the president of the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA) which is responsible for the preseason and postseason National Invitation Tournaments. He is also very active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Bronx Special Olympics, and was voted to the Catholic High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1988. McLaughlin is also a member of the Fordham University Kiwanis Club.

McLaughlin and his wife, Susan, have three daughters: Tara Marie (a 1999 Fordham graduate), Mary Heather, (a 2002 Fordham graduate) and Colleen Patrice (a 2005 Fordham graduate). The McLaughlins reside in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.


About Michael L. Buckner, Esquire

An attorney who provides clients with internal investigation, civil litigation, estate planning and compliance services.


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