A Devoted Director

February 21, 2011

Jack Kvancz will retire this summer after 17 years as GW’s athletic director.

Just one look at the banners hanging from the Charles E. Smith Center gives an idea of the university’s athletic accomplishments since GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz took the helm in 1994.

In his 17 years as university athletic director, Mr. Kvancz guided the growth of GW athletics to its current 22 varsity sports, adding women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, softball and men’s and women’s squash. Colonials basketball found success on the court with six NCAA Tournament appearances for the men’s team and 12 for women’s. The basketball, soccer, baseball and volleyball teams all won Atlantic 10 championships.

On June 30, Mr. Kvancz will retire from GW, a place where he says he’s had “a great time.”

“I’ve been fortunate to have great colleagues in GW’s Student and Academic Support Services who care about student-athletes, a great administrative staff who were loyal and competent and coaches who care about their student-athletes and their sports,” says Mr. Kvancz.

President Steven Knapp thanked Mr. Kvancz on behalf of the university. “During his tenure Jack has helped to establish GW’s athletic programs as the center of school spirit and student life,” says Dr. Knapp.

Mr. Kvancz will keep a hand in GW athletics as a special adviser to Robert Chernak, senior vice provost and senior vice president for student and academic support services, and the newly created Athletics Committee and will assist the university in overseeing the implementation of the athletic department’s new strategic plan.

“The university has been good to me and my family, and I look forward to serving as an adviser to Mr. Levine and the committee,” said Mr. Kvancz. “GW has been a part of my family for 17 years, and I am excited about the next phase of our relationship.”

A national search for a new athletic director will begin immediately.

Some of Mr. Kvancz’s favorite GW memories include the success of the university’s student-athletes and tournament wins for GW’s basketball program.

“The student-athletes at GW are and will always be special to me,” says Mr. Kvancz. “They’ve done a great job academically, and I think we have the best academic support group in the country.”

At GW, Mr. Kvancz was involved in major improvements to GW’s athletic facilities, including the construction of the Lerner Health & Wellness Center, the multimillion-dollar renovation of the Charles E. Smith Center and upgraded athletic facilities at GW’s Mount Vernon Campus.

“GW athletic programs and facilities greatly grew over the years due to Jack’s leadership,” says Dr. Chernak. “Jack has many accomplishments during his nearly two decades at the university, and we are grateful for his service and that he will assist us during this transition period.”

“In addition to developing a close friendship over the years, I came to respect and admire Jack's acumen in the athletic administration arena,” Dr. Chernak adds. “I'm really indebted to him for all he has taught me.”

A guard for the Boston College basketball team in the 1960s, Mr. Kvancz was coached by former Boston Celtics star and Basketball Hall of Famer Bob Cousy and helped lead the Eagles to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the regional finals. In 2003, Mr. Kvancz was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame based on his athletic career at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Conn.

Following college, Mr. Kvancz began a more than 15-year coaching career, including stints at Masuk High School, Brown University and Catholic University, where in 1974 he accepted the additional responsibility of athletic director. From 1982 to 1994, Mr. Kvancz served as athletic director of George Mason University, a position he called “ideal” because he could watch his own three children play sports instead of coaching at night.

Mr. Kvancz served as president of the Atlantic 10 Athletic Directors twice and on the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection committee from 1998 to 2003.

Mr. Kvancz says his own coaching experience served him well as an athletic director as he was able to relate to the challenges coaches routinely face.

“When a coach is telling you they’re driving down I-95 at 2 a.m. and haven’t seen their family in four days, I can understand because I’ve done that too,” he says. “If you haven’t coached, I don’t know if you can really understand these challenges.”

While Mr. Kvancz admits he “can’t play golf seven days a week,” he says retirement will offer him more time to visit his children and grandchildren and catch up on some films.

“I’ll always be a Colonial,” he says.

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