Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gene Corrigan and the ACC

Charlottesville's Daily Progress has a 3 part series on former ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan. First of the 3 is

During the last 50 years, Gene Corrigan’s fingerprints are all over intercollegiate sports as an athlete, a coach, director of athletics, conference commissioner, NCAA president and finally as a knowledgeable consultant.

Nowhere has his impact been felt more than in Charlottesville where he was first a coach, but later became the man that changed the path for University of Virginia athletics as a bold, progressive athletic director.

He hired Terry Holland, hired Debbie Ryan, hired Bruce Arena - all destined for halls of fame of their own. He started the women’s athletic program at UVa and authored one of the most important papers ever penned at a history-rich university that knows something about important penmanship: The Corrigan Report.

When he was hired away from Washington and Lee in 1971 to become Virginia’s athletic director, Corrigan wasn’t blindly walking in. Years before, he had simultaneously served as the Cavaliers’ lacrosse coach (replacing Bob Sandell), soccer coach, freshman basketball coach, was also the varsity’s only assistant basketball coach and main

recruiter, plus taught three physical education classes a day. Oh yeah, he also sold insurance in his spare time.

So, he kind of knew what he was getting into. Virginia was one of the worst athletic programs in the ACC. It had little money budgeted for sports and little support. More...

Part 2
CORRIGAN SERIES: Notre Dame a new world for Corrigan

Part 3
CORRIGAN SERIES: Spearheaded ACC growth

One of the wisest decisions Gene Corrigan ever made was telling the Atlantic Coast Conference no the first time the league approached him about being its commissioner.

It was in the mid-1960s and the ACC’s first-ever commissioner, Jim Weaver, wanted Corrigan to become his successor. Weaver was a big ol’, slow-talking, owl-wise commissioner. Everybody loved him, especially Corrigan, who worked and learned under Weaver as the service bureau chief in what was then only a three-person conference staff.

Corrigan had gotten out of coaching at Virginia to make more money and to spend more time with his wife, Lena, and their seven children. Because Weaver didn’t like to travel, Corrigan found himself bouncing all over the ACC landscape to meetings with league athletic directors.

Weaver begged Corrigan to stay on, but Corrigan knew he wasn’t ready to become commissioner and opted for the AD job at Washington and Lee, where he had once coached lacrosse, soccer and basketball.

Years passed and so did Corrigan’s numerous roles as AD at W&L, Virginia and Notre Dame, where he finally got the ball rolling by hiring Lou Holtz to coach the Irish football program.

But in 1986, Georgia Tech athletic director Homer Rice called Corrigan and told him that Weaver’s successor, ACC commissioner Bob James, was planning to step down and the league wanted Corrigan to come home.

Corrigan insisted he didn’t know anything about being a commissioner and rejected the idea. After James died the following spring and Rice called again with no success.

The situation changed quickly. More...