Brian Chafin, Centre’s athletics director, announces retirement
After nearly a quarter century of service at Centre College, Brian Chafin has announced his retirement. Chafin began his coaching career at Centre in 1989 and has served as director of athletics and recreation since 2002. He leaves an impressive record that includes trips to NCAA championships in five different sports as both player and coach, and leadership of the Centre athletics program that has resulted in significant facilities improvements, success in all sports and the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse.
Gina Nicoletti, a senior athletics administrator and a member of the College’s staff as a coach since 1992, will serve as interim director of athletics and recreation effective Sept. 1. The College will conduct a national search for a permanent successor for Chafin in the fall of 2012.
A native of Chappaqua, N.Y., Chafin earned a B.S. in physical education at Ithaca College, where he was captain of the men’s basketball team, and a master’s in educational administration at St. Lawrence University. Before arriving at Centre, he coached for 16 years at Clarkson University, leading winning programs in soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s tennis.
“Brian’s positive impact on the Centre athletics program will be felt years into the future, and he can be proud of his legacy,” said John A. Roush, president of Centre College.
“That legacy includes his own achievements as a coach and leadership that has transformed our facilities and put in place the men and women who have enjoyed their own coaching accomplishments,” added Roush. “Those who know Brian and have followed his successful career will readily admit that he has something of a Midas touch, borne of talent as much as hard work.”
Chafin’s NCAA experience at the championship level began in 1972, when he captained the Ithaca men’s basketball team in postseason play. Eight years later, in 1980, and then again in 1988, he took the Clarkson men’s soccer team to the NCAA championships. In 1989, Chafin traveled to Centre College for the Final Four women’s basketball championships, coaching the Golden Knights against the Lady Colonels.
Despite losing that contest, he was immediately impressed with Centre College. So much so that later the same year he applied for and was hired to coach men’s soccer. Chafin revived the program, which eventually saw NCAA championship appearances in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He later assumed men’s and women’s golf coaching duties and saw Chris Morris and Emily Bachert represent Centre in 2009. In 2010 and 2011 both the men’s and women’s teams competed in the NCAA tourney. Bachert twice claimed the national runner-up position, in 2011 and 2012, and Morris claimed the national championship in 2011.
In fact, since assuming the director’s role in 2002, both team and individual postseason success has become almost commonplace. Women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, and football have all participated in NCAA postseason action. Men’s and women’s swimmers and track athletes have also enjoyed postseason competition, including four-time national long jump champion Chrys Jones.
The most noticeable change in the athletics program under Chafin’s leadership has been the renovation of Sutcliffe Hall, which doubled in size with the addition of the 15,000-square-foot Hazelrigg Gymnasium and the Buck Fitness Center, as well as upgraded offices and classrooms and the Hall of Fame Cafe.
The athletics program will soon add its second turf field, part of the south campus expansion that includes a multipurpose playing field and softball field. The College dedicated Joe McDaniel Field, a turf field at Farris Stadium, in 2011.
Chafin’s planning and organizational skills were also instrumental in efforts to create a new athletic conference, the Southern Athletic Association (SAA), in which Centre will begin competing in fall 2012.
Jay Gardiner, commissioner of the SAA, credits Chafin as “absolutely instrumental and a key player in all aspects of the conference’s creation.”
“I’m sorry to see him go,” Gardiner said, “and I know all his fellow ADs will miss his friendship and wise counsel. We’re proud of his numerous accomplishments and wish him every happiness.”
Asked what he’ll miss most after all these years, Chafin, ever the coach and mentor, says it will be “seeing young people enjoy what they’re doing and being successful.” This attitude is informed by four decades of involvement in Division III athletics, which he calls “the purest form of college athletics.”
“D3 allows student-athletes to be involved in the total college experience,” Chafin said. “Coaches train athletes to be their best, but after practice and games they are students who fold seamlessly back into the campus. Most important, our student-athletes graduate as extremely well-rounded men and women, able to meet individual challenges and work together as a team.”