With Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo announcing his retirement, the question becomes what is the legacy that GDF will leave behind? Let's start with the good. The school's official press release lists DeFilippo's many accomplishments over the last 15 seasons.
- Boston College transitioned to full membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- The football team enjoyed the most successful period in its history, earning back-to-back trips to the ACC Championship game (2007, 2008) and 12 consecutive postseason bowl games, capturing 103 victories during that streak.
- The Eagles have enjoyed record-breaking success in men's and women's basketball and men's and women's soccer.
- The men's ice hockey team has won four NCAA championships (2001, 2008, 2010, 2012) and has competed in five of the last seven national championship games.
- The sailing team has won 11 national team or individual titles in the past five years.
- Donations to the Flynn Fund have increased from $5.3 million in FY 1998 to more than $20 million this past fiscal year. In the last two years, there have been 87 commitments of $100,000 or more.
- Boston College has invested millions in facilities upgrades, including the $27 million Yawkey Athletics Center and multi-million dollar renovations to Conte Forum, Alumni Stadium and the soccer, field hockey and lacrosse facilities on the Newton campus.
Of course, with the good comes the ... not so good. DeFilippo had arguably the worst year of his 15 year career at BC in 2011-12. The BC A.D. came under fire nationally for comments about ESPN's role in conference realignment and his personal role in blocking UConn's entry into the ACC. Back at the Heights, DeFilippo angered Boston College fans and alum with his Twitter gaffe on Clemson attendance and comments on Frank Spaziani's performance following a 4-8 campaign.
There were also a number of coaches hired and unceremoniously fired, including rumored rifts between he and Tom O'Brien, Al Skinner, Cathy Inglese and Jeff Jagodzinski. Hiring and firing coaches is unquestionably part of the responsibilities of an A.D., but the very public firing of Jagodzinski, for one, did not sit well with many fans.
Regardless of the public gaffes over the past year and the many coaches and assistants fired (or retained and unduly praised), on the whole DeFilippo's tenure as Boston College athletics director has been a positive one. Out of the accomplishments listed below, I believe the one that will stand out the most will be GDF's role in transitioning the program out of the Big East and into the ACC. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the decision to follow Virginia Tech and Miami to the ACC seems extremely prescient. Though last year's struggles skew public perception, the switch in conference affiliation has been nothing but a positive for the program -- athletically, academically and financially.
Many of Gene's listed accomplishments can be tied back to the decision to leave the Big East for the ACC. The switch provided the boost in donations needed to upgrade facilities. The individual program accomplishments should be credited first to each sport's respective head coach (most notably men's ice hockey) and the academic and hey, look! we've never been sanctioned! ones won't be remembered.
But it will be DeFilippo's decision to lead the program out of the Big East that will serve as his lasting legacy to the school and the program. GDF certainly managed to ruffle a few feathers along the way, but BC is now well-positioned within the college athletics landscape for success in the future. For this reason alone, I think we can safely say that DeFilippo left the Boston College athletics department in a better place than which he found it. For that, I want to personally thank him for all he's done for both the school and the athletics department.