2003 “Penguin of the Year”: Gene DeFilippo

Everywhere Gene DeFilippo has been involved with collegiate athletics he has made a lasting impression. Now as the 2003 Penguin of the Year, DeFilippo, who is the Director of Athletics at Boston College, is being remembered for the impact he had not only on the Youngstown State football program more than 20 years ago, but for the hard-earned successes he has enjoyed since leaving the program.

DeFilippo was an assistant football coach and offensive coordinator for Bill Narduzzi from 1975-79 in what was his first full-time job in collegiate athletics. He made a major contribution during his five-year stint at YSU. The Penguins won Mid-Continent Conference Championships in 1978 and 1979, advancing to the Division II semifinals in 1978 and the championship game in 1979.

Following his tenure at Youngstown State he went to Vanderbilt as an assistant football coach, and after three years with the Commodores he began what has been a very successful career as an athletic administrator.

He has served as the Director of Athletics at three different institutions since becoming an administrator in 1983 at Vanderbilt. Two years after working as the Director of Administrative Services at Vandy he was named the Athletics Director at South Carolina-Spartanburg in 1984. In 1987, he went to Kentucky as the Assistant Director of Athletics-External Affairs and later became the Associate Director.

From 1993-97, DeFilippo made a splash as a Division I ­Director of Athletics at Villanova. While with the Wildcats, he was named to the NCAA Division I Management Council. His tenure included the 1997 BIG EAST regular-season men's basketball tournament title; 1994 NIT men's basketball championship; two NCAA championships for women's cross country, and a Rhodes Scholar, among other accolades before taking over at BC in 1997.

Since DeFilippo was named Boston College's Director of Athletics on Sept. 16, 1997, the BC athletics program has experienced a dizzying and unprecedented period of innovation, growth, fundraising, athletic and academic success. DeFilippo has made a significant impact on the program internally, in the Boston community, and from a national standpoint while molding it into one of the nation's elite both on and off the playing field.

In the March 18, 2002 issue of U.S. News and World Report, Boston College was ranked as one of the top 20 athletics departments in the country based on four criteria: Gender equity, graduation rates, win-loss records and total number of sports offered. Overall, the Eagles have more than 800 student-athletes and have 31 men's and women's varsity sports. Boston College is also a member of the BIG EAST Conference and Hockey East.

During his five-year tenure, DeFilippo has initiated an impressive overhaul of BC's athletics facilities that includes new football practice facilities, lighting, scoreboards and other improvements at Shea Field, renovations to Conte Forum, including a new sound system, floor and video boards, two new soccer fields on the Newton campus, new Astroturf for Alumni Stadium, and an air-inflated bubble to cover the stadium turf to provide an indoor practice facility for all sports during the winter months.

He renamed the Athletics Association's fundraising arm in honor of longtime Athletics Director Bill Flynn. Under DeFilippo's leadership, cash gifts received during the 2001-02 year reached a record level of $6.9 million, a 120 percent increase from cash received in 1998 and a 263 percent increase from 1994.

During the 2001-02 academic year, 371 student-athletes maintained a grade-point average of 3.0 or better and earned the Athletic Director's Award for Academic Excellence. The total is the highest in the six-year history of the award. In the most recent NCAA Graduation Rates report, issued in late 2001, Boston College was tied for fifth in the nation, graduating 82 percent of student-athletes within six years of entering the school.

In athletics competition, DeFilippo has overseen some of the most successful seasons in Boston College Athletics history. The Eagles football team appeared in the 2002 Motor City, marking the school's fourth straight bowl appearance. Also last year, the men's and women's basketball team both received NCAA Tournament bids. In 2000-01, BC won the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey championship as well as winning the Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles.

In 2001, the men's basketball team won the BIG EAST East Division regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the second round of NCAA play. The women's cross country and men's soccer teams both won the BIG EAST championship titles and both teams advanced to NCAA competition as the women's cross country squad finished fourth in the country. Shannon Smith won the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter indoor run while individuals from the men's and women's fencing and wrestling squads also took part in NCAA play.

During DeFilippo's tenure at BC, the women's basketball team has played in the NCAA Tournament three times (1999, 2000, and 2001) and once in field hockey (1998), women's soccer (2000, 2001), men's soccer (2000, 2001) and softball (1998).

DeFilippo, the 2000-01 Division I-A Northeast Region NACDA/Continental Airlines AD of the Year, is extremely active on the national scene. He is the former BIG EAST representative to the NCAA Division I Management Council, the chair of the Executive Committee of the BIG EAST basketball conference, a member of the Executive Committee and second vice-president of NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics), vice-president of the nation's Division I-A Athletics Directors organization and is a member of the Honors Court of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Gene and his wife, Anne, are the parents of three children – Christine, 26, a guidance counselor and women's basketball coach at Beaver Country Day School; John, 24, a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Notre Dame, and Mary, a senior at Newton Country Day of the Sacred Heart is planning to attend Boston College this fall.