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Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022

Erin Quinn ’86 named Athletic Director of the Year

After a year of adjusting to Covid-19 restrictions to make athletics happen for students at Middlebury, Erin Quinn ’86 was recognized for his efforts. On March 10, Quinn was named by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) as a 2020-21 Division III Athletic Director of the Year. He is one of only four Division III athletic directors to win this year’s award.

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Erin Quinn ’86, Director of Athletics at Middlebury College, was recently named a NACDA Division III Athletic Director of the Year (Credit: Burlington Free Press)


“I was working at home when I received the email notification,” Quinn said. “It was appropriate for the past year that I was by myself in a makeshift office in my basement when I received the notification.”

This past year, Quinn helped navigate the pandemic-induced challenges that faced Middlebury athletics. His clear and constant communication with the Covid-19 Task Force allowed both recreational and varsity athletes to enjoy fitness opportunities on campus. 

In the Peterson Family Athletic Complex, Quinn worked diligently to create cleaning, spacing and monitoring plans to allow students to use the various facilities. He also spent countless hours at Virtue Field House, which was transformed into the Covid-19 testing center throughout the year.

“Any of our work around Covid was only possible because of the hard work of a lot of colleagues, both within our department and across campus,” Quinn said. “This adds up to a lot of meetings, but that is what has been necessary and has allowed us to navigate these challenging times as well as possible.”

Quinn also impressed in his work towards racial diversity and inclusion in athletics. After protests in the name of racial injustice heightened this summer, Quinn doubled down in his effort to bring equality to campus, implementing a 21-day allyship challenge for staff members, the Leaning into Discomfort video series and diversity and inclusion education workshops. He also enlisted the help of Andrew Plumley ’11 — currently the director of inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums — to provide valuable insight on many conversations and decisions regarding race and athletics at Middlebury. Quinn spearheaded a five-year plan to further address these issues.

“We have had an Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the past 4–5 years, but we increased our efforts over the summer and through the academic year,” Quinn said. “We meet once per week as a full committee, and then various sub-committees meet as needed. We changed the makeup of the committee, [too], adding students.”

Like other athletic directors, Quinn had to adapt to the uncertainty of the last year, and he did so by finding creative solutions, many of which he hopes to incorporate into his post-pandemic work. Most notably, Quinn has utilized Zoom to facilitate meetings with other athletics directors as well as the numerous other committees he is involved in.

“As much as we all have Zoom fatigue right now, the virtual meetings have provided an opportunity for collaborations that are not always practical as in-person meetings,” Quinn added. “I can imagine integrating virtual meetings into our regular practices moving forward.”

The difficulties of the last year also reinforced Quinn’s feeling that all the work he does is part of a team effort. He stressed that his receival of the NACDA award reflects the hard work of the many committees, coaches and volunteers that keep student athletics operating effectively. Quinn will be recognized for his achievement at the 2021 NACDA and Affiliates Virtual Convention July 27–28.


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