Spring Talk With Gene DeFilippo

Gene DeFilippo has been at Boston College for over a decade, seeing the athletic department through one of the most tumultuous and challenging times in its history. Over the last decade, the athletic department has undergone a radical transformation. The man leading the charge recently signed a five year extension He recently sat down with our Diana Nearhos to talk BC.

Four years ago, Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo endured great criticism for moving the school from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Alumni and others questioned if the Eagles could manage against the tough southern competition in the ACC. The move turned out to be a good one for BC, not just for football and basketball, but for the entire athletic department.

One thing is for sure, DeFilippo is an Eagle.

"Whenever I make a decision, I make some people mad," said DeFilippo. "Every decision is what is best for BC's student-athletes. If I listen to criticism, I would never be able to do my job. Some people were thrilled, others were unhappy about the move to the ACC. I have to let history decide [the validity of each decision]."

DeFilippo is confident the move to the ACC was a good decision, "We have had four really good years in the ACC. Recent years have evidenced that. Football won nine games, men's basketball returned to the NCAA tournament, women's basketball won 22 games, women's soccer played in the sweet 16, and women's hockey played in the national tournament, just to name a few of this year's successes."

Despite the Eagles' achievements, some alumni want more. "Some of our alumni want us to be Harvard Monday through Friday and Alabama on Saturday," said DeFilippo.

He has done a pretty good job of trying to be both. In the 2007-2008 academic year, 379 student-athletes maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or better, earning the Athletic Director's Award for Academic Excellence.

"The most difficult part of the job is the balance between athletics and academics, but at no point will we sacrifice academics for athletics," said DeFilippo.

In contrast, DeFilippo's favorite part is "getting to be around and work with the student-athletes. I know an awful lot personally."

Some of the players DeFilippo enjoyed a closer relationship with included Uka Agbai, basketball 1999-2004; Sarah Marshall, basketball 2003-2007; Matt Ryan, football 2004-2008; Craig Smith, basketball 2002-2006, and Larry Anam, football 2002-2006.

In addition to the players, DeFilippo makes an effort to get to know the students.

"I go to the dining hall and sit down with students I do not know," said DeFilippo. "Students come in to talk to me, spend time with me. I have had three come in this week, interviewing me for papers to write. I am fortunate that I do know a lot of regular students and would like to know more."

Working with students and athletes, is part of what makes the job so enjoyable for DeFilippo. "I don't look at this job as work. Work is something I don't want to do-work is doing chores in the yard," said DeFilippo. "This job is a labor of love."

DeFilippo will have the opportunity to continue his labor of love for at least a few more years. In April, his contract was extended through 2012.

"I plan to be here longer than five years; I love it here," said DeFilippo. "I have said it before, I am a very fortunate guy in that the only job I want is the one I have."

After working at multiple schools with different feels, DeFilippo still wants BC and nothing else. He worked for Tennessee, Youngstown State, Vanderbilt, University of South Carolina-Spartanburg, Kentucky, and Villanova before coming to BC.

"People ask you would you like to be. We want to be BC and we want to be the best possible BC we can be," said DeFilippo.

The AD has certainly done his part making BC the best it can be. He is credited with improving the school's athletics in terms of facilities, fund raising, staffing, and academic support, in addition to the wins. DeFilippo spearheaded the initiative to build the Yawkey Athletics Center, which holds the football program, the Office of Learning Resources for Student-Athletes, and a large function area for general university use.

One thing DeFilippo would change about BC is the student attendance.

"I realize that students have things going on in their own lives," he said. "[But] I would love to see more students at soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and women's basketball games to name a few."

BC's students have a tendency to drop off when the athletics are not doing as well, as is evidenced by the attendance at basketball last year and hockey this year.

DeFilippo has been with BC for twelve years. The athletics department has improved greatly in many ways.

"Look at this decade compared to those before. This is one of, if not the, best decade in BC athletics. I attribute that to the coaches and athletes who work very hard to achieve what they do," said DeFilippo.

The coaches and players certainly do put in a lot of work to earn their successes, but DeFilippo is also there behind the scenes putting in his fair share of effort.

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