By John Cirillo
Two dozen members of the Fairfield University family were among the hundreds in attendance to pay homage to esteemed Director of Athletics Gene Doris upon his entrance into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame on Friday night (April 15).
Always a Hall of Fame human being, now he is enshrined among college greats in the ECAC HOF. Coaches, administrators, colleagues, alumni and friends were among those on hand at the Matrix Conference & Banquet Center to raise a glass and toast the highly-regarded college administrator who is in his 22nd year at the helm of Stags athletic department, a tenure that began in 1994.
Vice president of Student Affairs Tom Pellegrino spearheaded a contingent that included a pair of admired Fairfield alum that also served as Stags ADs prior to Doris – George Bisacca (1962-71) and Don Cook (1972-86), who was an inaugural ECAC HOF inductee in 2015.
Fairfield head coaches Sydney Johnson (men’s basketball), Joe Frager (women’s basketball), Andy Copelan (men’s lacrosse) and Laura Field (women’s lacrosse), as well distinguished alumnus Bob Berchem, and a bevy of athletics and university colleagues including Janet Canepa, Alison Sexton, George Diffley, Zach Dayton, Allen Gibson, Pat Murphy, Jim Fitzpatrick, and Marie Muhvic.
Doris was fittingly enshrined alongside Fordham University AD-Emeritus Frank McLaughlin in the ECAC HOF “Class of 2016,” and another two dozen fellow alum were in attendance to salute the duo.
Both served as assistant coaches to Digger Phelps on the legendary 1971 Fordham team that was ranked ninth nationally. Gene earned both his Bachelors and Masters degrees at Rose Hill, and was later McLaughlin’s Associate Athletic director at Fordham before moving on to Marist as AD, prior to his arrival at Fairfield.
Gene has hop-scotched from the boroughs (born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, educated in The Bronx) to Westchester (White Plains) to upstate New York (Poughkeepsie) before planting new and strong roots as a mainstay in Fairfield County.
Doris coached 11 season at Stepinac High School in White Plains, where his team won the Division II New York Catholic High School Championship in 1985. He also coached baseball at Stepinac for eight seasons, as well as JV baseball at Archbishop Molloy High School in Jamaica, N.Y.
“It was an honor and privilege to recognize a special group that has had an immeasurable impact on the world of college athletics and specifically the ECAC,” said President and CEO Dr. Kevin T. McGinniss. “This event was an opportunity for these remarkable individuals to share their incredible achievements with family and friends and be forever recognized for the indelible mark that they have made on the ECAC.”
The Fairfield AD is one of the most active and admired college administrators on any level, serving on both regional and national committees, as well as several MAAC committees. He has also served a term as president of the ECAC, the nation’s largest athletic conference, and has sat on the Division I-AA Athletic Directors Football Committee. Gene is also admired as a rescue dog advocate as owner of three.
The ECAC honor is by no means the first for Doris. In 2010, he was named the Division I Athletics Director of the Year for the Northeast at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. In 2007, Doris was inducted into the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Hall of Fame for his contribution to the New York City-based league. He is also a member of the Stepinac High School Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the school’s Hardwood Hall of Fame.
Under his leadership at Fairfield, the varsity athletic program has undergone many changes, including increasing the number of varsity sports to 20 and the improvement of athletic facilities, a softball field, an artificial turf field and the construction of a multi-million dollar athletic facility. Doris has seen the Stags win the overall MAAC Commissioner’s Cup twice, while the men have won the Cup twice and the women’s teams an impressive five times. In 2004, Doris received the Constituent Supporter of the Year award from the Coastal Fairfield County Convention and Visitors Bureau for his role in bringing the 2004 NCAA Women’s Basketball First and Second rounds to the Arena at Harbor Yard. Doris was also instrumental in securing the 2006 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Regionals, and the 2007 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Fairfield also hosted the 2008 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament First and Second rounds and played co-host the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey East Regional. The Leader of the Herd Award was Gene’s brainchild in 2013, honoring such distinguished media icons as Jim O’Connell, Hoops Weiss, Bill Raftery, Verne Lundquist, Bob Wolff, Jackie MacMullan and Len Elmore in past three years.
Here is the ECAC Hall of Fame Class of 2016:
Steve Bamford (Administrator)
Plymouth State College, ECAC
Ernie DiGregorio (Athlete)
Gene Doris (Coach, Administrator)
Fairfield University, Marist College, Fordham University
Carolyn Femovich (Admin)
Patriot League, University of Pennsylvania
Abie Grossfeld (Coach)
Southern Connecticut State University, United States Olympic Men’s Gymnastics
Bob Hartwell (Administrator, Coach)
Adelphi University, Babson College
Mary Ann Hitchens (Coach, Administrator)
University of Delaware
Olav Kollevol (Administrator, Athlete, Coach)
Lafayette, Colgate, St. Lawrence
Ellie LeMaire (Official, Coach)
University of Bridgeport, University of Rhode Island
Frank McLaughlin (Athlete, Administrator)
Jack Powers (Athlete, Administrator, Coach)
Jack Riley (Coach)
United States Military Academy
Dee Rowe (Coach)
University of Connecticut
Carl Ullrich (Coach, Administrator)
United States Military Academy, Cornell University, Boston University, United States Naval Academy, Patriot League
Dick Yoder (Coach, Administrator)
West Chester University
1972 West Chester State College Women’s Swimming & Diving Team