FREDONIA, N.Y. – State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Commissioner Dr. Patrick R. Damore has announced he will retire from his position at the end of his current contract which concludes June 30, 2012.
Damore, an Oswego, N.Y. native, has served as the first, and only, commissioner in the history of the Division III athletics conference. He has held the post since 1979, acting in the full-time capacity since 1985.
“It has been a great honor to serve the SUNYAC Conference membership during my time as commissioner,” Damore said. “After spending over a three-decades with the conference it will be hard to move on, but the league-wide leadership is as strong as it has ever been.”
“I would like to thank the presidents of our institutions and all of the athletic administrators on our campuses for this wonderful opportunity that I was provided.”
During his tenure in the SUNYAC, Damore coordinated the addition of women’s sports programs in 1983. In 2008-2009, the women’s programs celebrated their 25th anniversary and the SUNYAC also celebrated its 50th anniversary. The conference has also increased its sponsored sports by adding women’s lacrosse (1996-97) and reinstating field hockey (2000-01) and men’s lacrosse in (1999-2000).
Since his appointment, Damore has overseen the crowning of 591 SUNYAC champions, soon to be one more when he crowns the 2011-12 men’s ice hockey champion on Saturday March 3. Twenty-nine SUNYAC teams have won NCAA national titles and the student-athletes have claimed such honors as Capital One academic All-Americans, Woman of the Year finalists, and Regional and National athletes of the year.
Today, 10 institutions compete in the SUNYAC as full-time members, while Morrisville holds an associate membership in the sports of field hockey and ice hockey. The conference presently offers competition in 20 sports; nine for men and eleven for women.
“We are indebted to Pat for the strong leadership he has provided the SUNYAC Conference throughout the past 33 years,” said Assistant Commissioner Janelle Feuz. “His commitment to demonstrating the important role athletics plays as part of the undergraduate experience has provided the student-athletes opportunities to succeed in the competition arena as well as in the classroom.”
Dr. Damore has been involved in SUNYAC athletics for many years even before filling the role of Commissioner. He first came to Fredonia State in 1956 as an assistant professor. Three years later he began the first soccer team at Fredonia and originated the national collegiate soccer rating system in 1968. He continued to coach soccer for nine years, four years of basketball and 12 years of tennis while also holding the title of Fredonia State Athletic Director from 1968-1985.
He has held several leadership positions at the national level including serving as the president of the NCAA Division II and III College Division Commissioners Association and also the Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America. The model for which he serves as a leader can be attributed to his service in the United States Navy where he served on active duty during the Korean conflict. Upon his retirement from the Naval Reserve after 36 years (1947-1983) he was awarded the Naval Commendation Medal.
“Pat has instilled the highest standards in everyone he has come in contact with and that has made SUNYAC one of the great Division III conferences in the country,” said Oswego State Athletic Director Tim Hale. “We can’t thank Pat enough for his long time leadership of our conference.”
Damore’s accolades within athletics include the NCAA Division III Commissioner’s Association Meritorious Service Award, SUNYAC Distinguished Service Award, Bill Jeffries Award for contribution to national collegiate soccer and the ECAC James Lynah award for distinguished achievement.
Damore was inducted into the Brockport State Athletics Hall of Fame, and the National Association of College Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Fredonia State Athletics Hall of Fame and two years ago he was inducted into the Chautauqua County Sports Hall of Fame.
Damore earned a bachelor’s in health and physical education from SUNY Brockport, masters in secondary school administration from St. Lawrence University and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Oklahoma.
“There is never a perfect time to make such an important decision,” stated Damore. “And after serving 50 years as an athletic administrator, I will have more time to spend with my family and pursue other interests.”
A national search for the next SUNYAC Conference commissioner will begin soon.