Reilly To Step Down As Director of Athletics

November 1, 2005

11/2/05 - After nine years as director of athletics at Middlebury College and 29 years of service to the department, Russ Reilly will retire effective June 30, 2006. The man synonymous with Middlebury athletics leaves behind a remarkable career that has coincided with tremendous expansion as well as amazing success for the college.

"I have been truly blessed working for Middlebury College and its students," said Reilly.  "Little did I know 29 years ago that I would have the opportunity to hold a variety of jobs, from teaching and coaching to administration, at one of America's greatest institutions of higher learning, while providing my family with a stable home environment as my children grew into adulthood.  The success we have enjoyed over the past few years is a result of the foundation laid by my predecessor, Tom Lawson. I also credit a supportive administration and alumni body which provided us with great facilities, a truly dedicated and professional coaching staff which considers itself a family, and the great group of students who chose to pursue both their academic and athletic passions at Middlebury."

"I am thankful to President Emeritus John McCardell for having faith in my ability to provide leadership for the athletic department when he appointed me director of athletics in 1997."

Reilly took over as the department's director in July of 1997, following the retirement of Director of Athletics G. Thomas Lawson, who had held the position for 20 years. During Reilly's tenure as director, Middlebury's athletics facilities have expanded dramatically. Middlebury added the Kenyon Ice Hockey Arena, the Kohn all-weather field, a softball diamond, and renovated and expanded the fitness center, Pepin Gymnasium, the Duke Nelson Recreational Center, and the Bubble, which houses an indoor track and five new international squash courts. In addition, the full-time coaching faculty has grown from 16 to 20.

"The remarkable success of our athletic program is due in large part to the people who coach and teach our students with such great care, skill and dedication," said Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz. "Russ Reilly has been the understated, but essential, force in our program, responsible for setting the tone that defines the values we try to impart to our student-athletes: discipline, dedication, determination, teamwork, personal growth, and having fun along the way. In addition, he is, simply put, a terrific guy. Though everyone associated with Middlebury athletics will miss him, we wish Russ and his wife Jane the best."

The school has also enjoyed tremendous success, capturing 22 National Championships and 35 NESCAC conference championships during Reilly's tenure as director of athletics. In 1999 and 2000, he served as chair of the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC) Athletic Administrators. He was chair of the NCAA Men's Division III Ice Hockey Championships Committee in 2004-2005, serving on the committee for a total of four years. He also served one year on the inaugural NCAA Women's Collegiate Ice Hockey Championship Committee. Middlebury has also performed well in the NACDA Director's Cup Standings over the last 10 years, with seven top-five finishes.

Reilly arrived at Middlebury in the fall of 1977. He served one year as an assistant basketball coach to Lawson before taking over the head coaching duties in 1978. He served as head coach of the Panther men's basketball team until taking over his current duties in 1997, compiling a career record of 173-260 over 19 seasons. He has won, lost and coached more men's basketball games at Middlebury than any other coach in the program's history. In February  1987, Reilly received a merit award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) for 20 or more years of coaching. In 1988, he was selected by his peers as the NABC Northeast District and UPI New England Division III Coach of the Year, while directing the Panthers to the Most Improved Team Award. He participated in several summer basketball camps and directed the Middlebury Basketball School for several years. He was an active member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the New England Basketball Coaches Association, and is an emeritus member of both organizations.

In 1979, Reilly took over the reigns of the women's soccer program at Middlebury, expanding the program tremendously. He served as the team's head coach from 1979 to 1986, earning a career mark of 35-39-6 over seven years. Reilly served as the head coach of the Panther spring golf team from 1978 to 1993, and head coach of the fall team from 1987 to 1993. In the fall of 1995, Reilly served as the president of the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association.

In the summer of 1983, Reilly was named assistant director of athletics at Middlebury College and then promoted to associate director of athletics in the fall of 1994. His additional duties included  scheduling for varsity athletic teams, as well as Middlebury College's athletic facilities. In 1996, Reilly was selected as a Sports Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport. The award is given to a select group of individuals who consistently demonstrate an interest in promoting the ideals of ethics and fair play in sport and society.

In his 29 years at Middlebury, Reilly has also served as the director of intramurals and an assistant men's soccer coach. He has been a committed member of the Middlebury community, coordinating the United Way golf tournament from 1986 to 1996, and serving on the board of directors for the last 10 years. Reilly currently serves as the vice president of the Middlebury chapter of the United Way. His on-going relationship with Butch Varno, a local citizen with cerebral palsy, was highlighted in an Emmy Award-winning feature on ESPN in 2003. He also continues to be involved in the Vermont High School Athletic Directors Association.

Reilly is a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he played four years of basketball. He also served as a student assistant to the Bates athletics department, coordinating the intramural program as well as handling several other duties. Upon graduation with a bachelor's degree in sociology in the spring of 1966, Reilly attended Boston University to work on his master's degree in physical education. While at B.U., Reilly served as an assistant men's basketball coach and an assistant baseball coach. He obtained his master's degree in the spring of 1968 and then taught junior high school science for one year in Natick, Massachusetts. He returned to his alma mater in the fall of 1969 to serve as an assistant men's basketball coach for eight years. In addition to his basketball coaching duties, he also served as the head athletics trainer as well as the director of the Bates College intramural program.

Reilly and his wife Jane have been married since 1968 and live in New Haven. They have three grown daughters - Jennifer, Jody and Lindsay - and are the proud grandparents of their grandson Henry.

"What I look forward to most in retirement is being able to be a more involved and supportive husband, parent and grandparent than I have allowed myself to be during my career," added Reilly. "What I will miss the most is the day-to-day interactions with my coaching colleagues and friends at the college."

A search for Reilly's replacement will begin early in the new year.


7/27/44  date of birth, Cohasset, Mass.

1962  graduated from Weston HS, Weston, Mass.

1962-66  graduated from Bates College (B.A. sociology)

1966-68  graduated from Boston University (M.A. physical education)

  asst. men's basketball coach at B.U. (3 years)

  asst. baseball coach at B.U. (3 years)

1968-69  taught junior high school earth science in Natick, Mass.

1969  joined Bates College athletic staff

  head athletic trainer (8 years)

  asst. men's basketball coach (8 years) 

  intramural director (8 years)

1977  joined Middlebury College athletic staff

  asst. men's basketball coach (1 year)

  asst. men's soccer coach (1 year)

  spring golf coach (15 years)

1978  named head men's basketball coach (19 years)

  named intramural director (1 year)

1979  named first head women's soccer coach (7 years)

1983  named assistant athletics director (11 years)

1987  received merit award from National Association of Basketball Coaches for 20+ years of coaching

  named fall golf coach (7 years)

1988  named NABC Northeast District and UPI New England Division III Coach of the Year

1994  named associate director of athletics at Middlebury College

1995  named the president of the New England Intercollegiate Golf Association

1996  selected as a Sports Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport

4/7/97  named director of athletics at Middlebury College

6/30/06  will retire as director of athletics at Middlebury College