Niagara Gazette — Six years ago, the Niagara Gazette broke the story that former hockey coach Blaise McDonnell would be the new athletic director at Niagara University.
Days later, Ed McLaughlin was named the new athletic director at Niagara University.
That's why, with no official confirmation from Niagara officials, I am a bit reluctant to report what several solid sources have told me — that Tom Crowley will be introduced as the Purple Eagles new AD today at the Gallagher Center.
I am sure that Crowley was one four finalists who spoke to select members of the campus community last week, along with associate athletic directors from Marshall University (Jeff O'Malley), Eastern Kentucky University (Simon Gray) and Syracuse University (Jamie Mullins).
Crowley would've been my pick from that group, as well. He's spent 27 years coaching and administrating in collegiate athletics, the last five of which in the new mecca of mid major basketball, Butler University. He's also worked at Temple University, where he set fundraising records, according to his Butler bio, and the University of Vermont, giving him experience with hockey.
But, just like new UB AD Danny White, Crowley is a born basketball man. While studying at the Wharton School at the University of Penn, he captained the Quakers team that advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1978. The next year, he helped coach Penn to the Final 4.
Doubtless, basketball coach Joe Mihalich endorsed Crowley's hire, perhaps more strongly that he did McLaughlin's. It's imperative that the new Niagara AD work with Mihalich to restore the Purple Eagles' status as a premier program in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and maximize the revenues that only men's basketball (and football) programs can produce.
“I think what the little privates figured out in that era was that 15 scholarships and a few pairs of Converse and you could be on the front page,” Crowley told the New York Times in 2010.
Niagara once had an opportunity to become a national player in college hockey. That opportunity could arise again, but only if the school can raise significant funds to upgrade Dwyer Arena, and even then, men's hockey may still be a money-losing operation in this market.
It might take the Purple Eagles a Butler-like run in the NCAA basketball tournament to get the entire athletic program on better financial footing.Contact sports editor Jonah Bronstein at email@example.com.