Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Week To Remember

It's been quite a few days around these parts, what with the going-away party for one athletic director and the introduction of the new one.

TigerBlog was thinking about the transition from Gary Walters to Mollie Marcoux.

Actually, before he gets to that, he also noticed that autocorrect changes "Mollie" to "Millie," which left him wondering how many times he's going to change it before his phone gets the point.

Anyway, the first person at Princeton to have the designation of Director of Athletics was Ken Fairman, who first assumed that title in 1941 and then held the position until 1973. He actually oversaw Princeton's sports teams beginning in 1939, when his title was graduate manager of athletics.

According to the Princeton Companion - a great reference tool by the way - the athletic administration at Princeton began in the 1800s as an "every man for himself" arrangement - with the emphasis on "man." Each team had a captain, and the captains made all of the administrative decisions.

Then, in 1890, the teams all came together under one athletic umbrella, eventually with oversight from the faculty. This lasted until 1937, when the athletic department - under the leadership of graduate manager of athletics Asa Bushnell - was formed.

Fairman's 32-year run as Director of Athletics is the longest in Princeton history. He was replaced in 1973 by Royce Flippin, who among other things, emailed TigerBlog yesterday about a matter completely unrelated to anything to do with the change in athletic directors, though it did mean that in one day, TB heard from three of the five people to hold the title in 73 years.

Flippin was the AD until Bob Myslik replaced him in 1979 and then ran the department until 1994, when Gary Walters took over.

The first four people to hold the position held it for an average of more than 18 years, with Flippin's tenure the shortest and Fairman's the longest. Should Marcoux hit that average of 18 years, then she figures to be TB's final boss.

TigerBlog remembers his first conversation with Gary Walters after they both started at Princeton, and he remembers that it was sort of like a reverse job interview, where Gary asked him all kinds of questions about his background, his future plans, where he saw himself in 10 years, that sort of thing. He also told him he was lucky that he was hired in between Myslik's last day and his first, because he never would have hired a Penn guy.

What TB would really like to do is go back to that moment and ask Gary about his future plans, about where he thought he would be in 10 years. Or if he thought he'd still be the AD in 20 years.

Now those 20 years have flown by. And now it's Mollie Marcoux's time to take over.

What will her future be at Princeton? Will there be a big party for her in 2034 after her 20 years, and if so, will it be in Jadwin Gym, or will it be in the new facility that she spearheaded?

With such a massive changing of the guard, it's easy to think in such big-picture terms these days.

At the same time, the games keep going.

There was a huge one last night, when Princeton beat Penn 9-5 in women's lacrosse. With the win, Princeton has the inside track on at least a share of the Ivy League title and a chance to host the Ivy League tournament.

In fact, Penn has been the only host of the Ivy women's tournament in the four years the event has been held. Now, after the win last night, Princeton would host the tournament with either a win Saturday against Dartmouth (on Sherrerd Field at 1) or a loss by Penn in any of its final three league games - against Columbia, Cornell and Brown.

Princeton is now 5-1 in the Ivy League, followed by Penn at 3-1. Harvard and Cornell have two losses each; Dartmouth is 2-3.

A win Saturday would also mean at least a share of the league title. Another team that can clinch a share - or even an outright - league title this weekend is the women's tennis team.

Princeton is currently 5-0 in the league, with two matches left. The Tigers are at Cornell (0-5 in the league) tomorrow, and a win there would mean at least a share of the Ivy League championship.

Then there is Sunday, when Columbia is at Princeton. The Lions are in second place at 4-1, and they play another 0-5 team, Penn, Friday. Should both Princeton and Columbia win, then the match Sunday would be something of a showdown, though not winner-take-all.

Columbia has already lost to Yale, who lost to Princeton. There can still be a three-way tie for the title, or Princeton can win it outright. There's also the NCAA bid at stake.

On the one hand, it's a week that in many ways is historic in Princeton athletic history. The end of the Walters era, so elegantly celebrated Saturday night. And the arrival of the new AD, the first woman to hold the position.

On the other hand, it's just another week in mid-April, which means big games with big stakes. This weekend, they're coming to campus, for women's lacrosse Saturday and women's tennis Sunday.

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