Lynch Named Division I Athletic Director of the Year
National award caps strong year for Athletics| From BU Today | By Leslie Friday
Athletic director Michael Lynch (right) with Shawn Flynn, Under Armour’s director of sports marketing, at the awards ceremony. Photo courtesy of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
Michael Lynch was named the 2010–2011 Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for the Division I Northeast region on June 18, boosting the University’s national recognition for its athletic programs.
Saying he was humbled, Lynch calls the honor a staff award. “It’s something that BU is receiving because of the hard work of a lot of people here,” says Lynch, who is also an assistant vice president. “I just happen to be in the lead chair right now.”
Lynch received the award during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics 46th annual convention in Orlando, Fla., in June.
The award is just the latest in a series of honors for the University’s athletics department, which recently earned the Stuart P. Haskell, Jr. Commissioner’s Cup as the strongest athletic program in the America East conference. BU swimming and diving athletes also shared the conference’s Sportsmanship Award, and the University took home the America East/College for Every Student Service Award, given to women’s rowing coxswain Alex Thornton (CAS’11).
The NACDA created the Under Armour award to recognize athletic directors “for their commitment and positive contribution to campuses and their surrounding communities.” To qualify, athletic directors have to have served a minimum of five academic years, demonstrated a commitment to higher education and student athletes, emphasized teamwork, loyalty, and excellence, and been an inspirational leader.
Lynch fits that bill. As athletic director over the past seven years, he has encouraged BU athletes to perform their best on the court, on the ice, on the field, and in the water while emphasizing that sports is just one aspect of their BU experience.
“Mike Lynch made it clear that academics is the reason young folks are here,” says Joseph Mercurio, BU’s former executive vice president. (The GPA of BU’s student-athletes recently exceeded 3.0 for the first time in more than a decade.)
Each year, Lynch gives the same speech to freshman athletes, reminding them that “99 percent of the young people that come here to participate in our program are not going to continue professionally,” and that “to come to BU and have the opportunity to wear the uniform is not something that everybody can do. It’s a gift.”
Lynch recalls that as an undergraduate student-athlete at Rollins College, his baseball coach gave him and his teammates similar advice, emphasizing the importance of getting a degree in order “to have something to fall back on.” Lynch prefers the phrase “something to build off of” for his BU athletes. He heeded his coach’s advice, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, which “has come in handy in this job,” he says with a smile. After pitching for both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Red Sox, he went on to get a master’s in education administration from the University of Albany.
As athletic director, Lynch has emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. He encourages BU athletes to fundraise for charities, to offer free clinics to underprivileged youth, and to volunteer at local schools, including Allston’s Jackson Mann School as part of the College for Every Student mentoring program.
Community work “is probably in some ways more vital than the actual knowledge they get in the classroom,” Lynch says. “It’s an opportunity for our athletes to visit with kids who may come from different backgrounds than them, to learn what it’s like to be a role model, and learn what type of an impact they can make in the kids’ lives.”