Roach leaves for Colgate position after 14 years as Brown athletic director

Friday, September 17, 2004

After 14 years as athletic director, David Roach is leaving the University to take the same position at Colgate University.

Though Brown’s athletic program was ranked one of the top 20 programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2002, the lure of building up a program that will feature scholarships in most sports for the first time this year was too much to pass up, Roach said. At Brown, Roach would have been responsible for simply maintaining a program he already had made stronger.

Also, Colgate’s football team can participate in the Division I-AA playoffs, unlike the Ivy League programs.

“It was time for a change, I needed new challenges,” said Roach, who will officially take over his new position on July 17.

Colgate’s emphasis on academics was also a strong factor in Roach’s decision. Colgate, in upstate New York, plays in the Patriot League, which was formed in 1986 with an emphasis on education similar to the Ivy League’s.

“They realize that athletics is an integral part of the education of a student-athlete,” Roach said. “They’re trying to increase the profile of the institution” through the athletic program.

Roach, who turns 55 in September, leaves Brown after spending a total of 22 years at the University. Roach began his career at Brown in 1978, when he coached the women’s swimming team. In 1986, he moved to the University of Tennessee to take the same coaching position there, before returning to Brown in 1990 as athletic director.

Roach said he thinks this move to Colgate will be his last.

“I thought I had one move left in me,” said Roach. “If I was going to make a move, I felt that this was the time to do it.”

After coaching at Tennessee for four years, where he won 85 percent of the meets he coached, he was nominated to become Brown’s athletic director in 1990. Roach called accepting the Brown job the hardest decision he’s had to make, especially since it was never his goal to become an athletic director.

“I went to college with the goal of being a physical education teacher and a high school swimming coach,” said Roach. “Then I realized that being a college coach was better, so I did that. When I got the letter at Tennessee that I’d been nominated for the Brown athletic director position, I kind of chuckled a bit. … It was a big decision to give (coaching) up and go into administration.”

Roach said he thinks his experience at Brown has prepared him well for the move to Colgate. He plans on using his experiences – both good and bad – at his new position.

“Working with student athletes is great,” said Roach. “It’s not a job; it’s a lot of fun. Going to Colgate will reenergize that for me.”

Roach’s tenure as athletic director included a milestone in college sports, when Brown loast the first lawsuit that successfully challenged a college’s adherence to Title IX, which guarantees equity between men’s and women’s sports. As director, Roach also faced allegations of recruiting violations that resulted in the football team’s inability to compete for the 2000 Ivy League title, just one year after Brown won the championship.

“Any time that you have an experience where you have to make decisions, you learn from it,” said Roach. “Any time you make a decision, if you knew the outcome, it’d be easy. … Now I know more about Title IX than any A.D. in the country.”

But Roach also saw successes and highlights during his tenure, as well. The Bears have won 62 Ivy League and Eastern championships, made 36 NCAA Tournament appearances and won eight national titles, including the women’s crew team’s four NCAA championships.

He feels he has plenty of ideas to bring to his new position that were successful at Brown, including an all-sport banquet at Colgate, during which athletes share what being a college athlete means to them.

“It’s a great highlight of what the student athlete at Brown can accomplish, and I think at Colgate we’ll bring some (similar things) to the table.”

Another highlight from Roach’s tenure was the relationship that the athletic department has developed with the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School in Providence’s Fox Point neighborhood, where Brown student-athletes volunteer. He gave the example of former lacrosse player Greg Rozycki ’95, who befriended a child at the school when he began volunteering in his sophomore year, and still has a relationship with the soon-to-be college freshman.

“I take a lot of pride in that relationship (with the school),” said Roach. “Not only have the Fox Point students benefited, but the student-athletes as well.”

An interim athletic director, whom the Corporation must approve, will be appointed in the coming weeks, according to Joan Taylor, senior associate athletic director.

A committee will form in the fall to perform a national search for a permanent replacement.

Herald staff writer Chris Hatfield ’06 edits the sports section. He can be reached at