McDonald leads Athletic Dept. with pride, energy and perseverance

Brianna LaBrecque

Have you ever wondered who the most committed Quinnipiac Bobcat is? Walk into the Athletic Center, down the upstairs hallway until you find the Administrative Offices.

In the back is an office with walls covered in plaques and pictures, almost all having something to do with Quinnipiac Athletics. Who is the most committed Bobcat? Jack McDonald.

McDonald has been the Director of Athletics and Recreation for eight years here at Quinnipiac, where he is responsible for overseeing all 21-varsity sports, as well as coaches and staff, campus recreation, intramurals, the fitness center and all athletic facilities.

McDonald, a native Bostonian, graduated from Boston College with a degree in Economics, later receiving a master’s degree in Athletic Administration/Physical Education from Springfield College.

While at BC, McDonald competed in cross-country and track and field for all four years. After graduation, he stayed on at BC for nine years as a men and women’s track and field coach. McDonald is a member of Boston College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

After a three-year tenure at BC as the Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Promotions, McDonald traveled to Colorado in 1990, where he was named Athletic Director at the University of Denver. While at Denver, he helped move the institution from Division II to Division I and began the planning stages of a basketball and hockey arena, which may sound very familiar, since McDonald has since done the same process for Quinnipiac.

In 1995, McDonald made the decision that he wanted to move back to New England. After meeting with President John Lahey and Dean of Students Manny Carerro, McDonald decided that Quinnipiac was a “perfect match.”

Since finding that match, McDonald has been an integral part of Quinnipiac Athletics. While at Quinnipiac, McDonald has initiated the move from Division II to Division I athletics, and has proudly watched his teams perform successfully at this level.

“I love coming in every single day and I hate leaving every single night,” McDonald said. “I have the best administration and coaching staff in the country. The people I work with make my job fun.”

Throughout his eight years, McDonald has three moments that stand out in his mind as the most memorable.

The first is Sept. 2, 1998, Quinnipiac’s Division I inauguration. With 3,000 people watching, including representatives from the NCAA, President Lahey, Quinnipiac trustees, students and alumni, the move was marked with celebration.

“It took three years of hard work to move to a new level,” said McDonald.

McDonald’s second moment is last years Northeast Conference Championship game that pitted Quinnipiac against Central Connecticut State University. McDonald specifically remembers the sea of yellow t-shirts and everyone wanting more tickets.

“We were one minute away from the NCAA tournament,” said McDonald. “It proved that we are a Division I institution, with Division I athletics, Division I students, and Division I spirit.”

The third, most personal moment on McDonald’s list was last season’s men’s hockey team playing in the NCAA tournament. McDonald was a chair on the NCAA selection committee that was overseeing the game, and he recalls being overwhelmed with feeling at seeing his team on the ice in the Worcester Centrum.

“I grew up in Boston watching Cornell, who was the dynasty of college hockey in the ’60’s, and to be at the Worcester Centrum, sold out to 12,000 people, and to see our team on the ice with Cornell, and having in the stands, our president, my mom, all ten of my brothers and sisters, my friends from high school-is a lifelong memory,” said McDonald. “I feel so blessed that Coach Pecknold and the team got us there, and to have all the right people there to see it.”

Whether at Burt Kahn Court for basketball or at the Northford Ice Pavilion for a hockey game, Jack McDonald is almost certain to be at the next university sports event. Usually armed with his digital camera, which he uses to take photos for the website, McDonald is always a friendly face in the crowd, supporting his Bobcats until the end.