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Loyola celebrates the life of Joseph Boylan, former athletic director

| By Ryan Eigenbrode
Photo of Joseph Boylan

Joseph Boylan, who served as athletic director for Loyola for 19 years, passed away March 21 after suffering a stroke. Boylan, who was 82, will be remembered for his friendly, warm personality, his ability to connect with people, and the profound way he shaped and strengthened Loyola Greyhounds athletics. 

A Baltimore native, Boylan returned to his hometown as the school’s director of athletics in 1991 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 2010. He is a member of the Loyola Athletics’ Hall of Fame Class of 2020 in honor of his service and legacy with the Greyhounds.

“Everyone Joe met became his friend. He remembered people and knew their families, and he always went out of his way to say hello to everyone," said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola. “He was a real gentleman, and he would be there for you. He always gave good advice—and, as president, I relied on him for that advice." 

Even after Boylan left Loyola, the two stayed in touch throughout the year, including on their birthday (Aug. 25) and on St. Patrick’s Day, and they chatted on the holiday last week.

Boylan led the Greyhounds during a time in which eight teams earned NCAA Championships bids under coaches he hired, retained, or mentored. The Greyhounds won more than 65 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships while Boylan was at the school, and he also hired the three coaches—Patty Coyle (women's basketball, 1994 and 1995), Skip Prosser (men's basketball, 1994) and Jimmy Patsos (men's basketball, 2012)—who have taken the Greyhounds basketball teams to the NCAA Division I Tournament. 

“Joe hired very well. He really was very careful to attract coaches who were on board with our mission,” Fr. Linnane said. "He was a wonderful mentor to the coaches.” 

The men’s and women’s lacrosse programs both reached No. 1 in their respective polls and qualified for their first-ever NCAA Final Fours. Two years after his retirement, the Greyhounds men’s lacrosse program reached the pinnacle of its sport, winning the 2012 NCAA Championship under Head Coach Charley Toomey, a coach who was hired by Boylan. 

“If you are lucky in life, you may cross paths with someone whom you consider a second father,” said Charley Toomey ’90, Loyola’s head men’s lacrosse coach since 2006. “Joe Boylan had a unique way of not only making you feel important, but imparting words of Irish wisdom upon you with every encounter. For over 30 years, ‘Mr. B.’ mentored me personally and professionally. I only hope to make him proud every day going forward.” 

Boylan’s guidance of the Loyola athletic department also came during times when the school added to its cache of athletic facilities. In his final months as athletic director, Loyola celebrated the opening of Ridley Athletic Complex, a 6,000-seat lacrosse and soccer complex that is considered by many to be the top facility of its kind. 

“It was clear to me from the moment I met Joe that he embodied everything that is special about Loyola," said Donna M. Woodruff, Loyola’s assistant vice president and director of athletics. “He immediately welcomed me to the community that he so truly loved and had such an impact on influencing during his nearly 20 years as athletic director. I can only hope to honor Joe’s legacy by doing my job with the kindness, care and leadership that he had for his Loyola family.” 

True to his roots as a scholar-athlete and mentor to young men and women, Boylan also led the expansion of academic support for Loyola student-athletes, helping set the groundwork for a program that would assist in graduation rates which have ranked amongst the NCAA’s top-25 since the inception of the association’s Graduation Success Rate reports. 

Boylan joined Loyola from Rutgers University where he served from 1974-1991, first as associate head men’s basketball coach and later as assistant athletic director for academic support. He was a member of Tom Young’s coaching staff from 1973-85 and was with the Scarlet Knights as they reached the 1976 Final Four as one of two unbeaten teams and ultimately finished the year with a 31-2 record and ranked fourth in the NCAA. 

“There is no one who has had a bigger impact on my life both personally and professionally than Joe Boylan. He had a similar impact on so many other colleagues, coaches, student-athletes and staff members,” said Teddi Burns ’86, M.A.’90, Loyola’s associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. “Joe had a way of making you feel unique, heard and valued. Our student-athletes at Loyola loved him, and he took the time to get to know them. He understood coaches and athletes because he had been in their shoes and he could relate to the pressure they were under. He had authentic relationships with them and gave them room to run their own programs, but he also knew when to step in and offer advice or just to be there and listen as they worked out an issue. Like most people he encountered, I will miss Joe profoundly. We have lost an amazing person, but we are all better people for having him in our lives.” 

During his coaching tenure, Rutgers compiled a 238-114 record, reaching three NCAA Tournaments and a pair of National Invitation Tournaments (NIT). In retirement, Boylan served as a color analyst for Scarlet Knights men’s basketball games. 

Although Boylan was renowned for his vast knowledge of and insight into athletics, he will be sorely missed for the way he connected with everyone he met. 

“Joe Boylan was a true gentleman,” said Terrence Sawyer, J.D., senior vice president for Loyola. “He saw the good in everyone, never had a bad day, exuded joy, and was eternally thoughtful. We were all lucky to have him in our lives.” 

He was an assistant basketball coach at American University from 1969-73 under Young before moving to New Jersey. Boylan started his coaching career in Baltimore County at Lansdowne High School where he also taught history. 

Boylan was raised in the Baltimore area and attended grade school at the former St. Charles Borromeo Church in Pikesville. He graduated in 1956 from Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore’s suburbs where he was a multi-sport athlete before moving on to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. There, Boylan was a men’s basketball and soccer player for the Leopards. 

After graduation from Lafayette in 1960, Boylan served in the United States Army from 1961-63, and he later earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. He also served for many years with the Stone Harbor (N.J.) Beach Patrol where he was a captain of the lifeguard service for 13 years.

Boylan is survived by his wife, Molly, and their daughter Heather, son-in-law Dave Wojcik, ’91, and grandson Jake. 

Arrangements 

Loyola offered the 5 p.m. Mass on Sunday, March 21, in Alumni Memorial Chapel for the repose of Joseph Boylan’s soul.

Visitation
St. Brendan the Navigator Parish
St. Paul’s Church
99th Street and Third Avenue
Stone Harbor, NJ 08247
March 26, 2021, from 5-8 p.m.

Mass
St. Brendan the Navigator Parish
St. Paul’s Church
99th Street and Third Avenue
Stone Harbor, NJ 08247
March 27, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.
Due to Covid restrictions the church is only at half capacity. The mass will be streamed live on the Radzieta Funeral Home Facebook page.

Memorial Contributions
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Loyola University Maryland’s Greyhounds Athletics Fund by visiting Loyola.edu.give. Once on the site, you can then designate your gift to the Greyhounds Athletics Fund and select the “Honorary Gift” option. If paying by check or money order, make your check or money order payable to Loyola University Maryland - Greyhounds Athletics Fund, and mail it to:
Athletics Development
Loyola University Maryland
4501 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21210

Additional Tributes: 

Jen Adams, Loyola’s head women’s lacrosse coach: 

“I do not know that I have met a man of greater character, wisdom, or genuine care for people, and his legacy at Loyola is beyond measure. He took a chance on me here at Loyola, and he took me under his wing. We had a coach-athletic director relationship, but it turned into a friendship that I will cherish and treasure the rest of my life. I am a better person for knowing him.” 

Joe Logan ’96, Loyola’s head women’s basketball coach: 

“Joe Boylan gave me and so many our first opportunity to coach. We will all be forever grateful to him and his family for that opportunity. Joe sat and supported, and mentored, and taught us all invaluable lessons. Joe loved X’s and O’s and loved to win, but what he taught us was that people and relationships are far more important than any championship, win or achievement. Joe often said, ‘You find out how successful you are as a coach 2 -30 years after your players graduate. Where are they in life and how did you help them get there?’ Joe personified the mantra that people will not remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel. Tonight, across America and around the world, there will be stories told and tears shed for a great man.” 

Matt Dwan ’95, Loyola assistant men’s lacrosse coach and former All-American player when Boylan was athletic director: 

“I was fortunate to be included in a small group of people who were at Loyola as a student-athlete and also worked under Mr. B. in the athletics department. I have never been around someone who was so invested in you as a person. He of the kindest people I have ever known who would sit down and talk about sports or just life. I will always cherish the time I spent with him. He was a great man and a great leader, and he will be truly missed.” 

Rick McClure, Loyola’s head men’s and women’s tennis coach: 

“Joe cared so much about everybody. He cared more about who you were than what you were. Every time someone met with Joe and met with him, he made you feel like you were the most important and special person by the time he left. He created a wonderful family environment for our coaches and student-athletes. He made a difference in my life, and I feel like we were all better for working for him and knowing him. He was a wonderful man.” 

Brian Loeffler, ’91, Loyola’s head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach: 

“Joe was a great leader, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He took Loyola to new heights and is responsible for hiring some of our most successful coaches and building Ridley Athletic Complex. He shaped what our family like athletic community has become and student-athletes for years will benefit from his legacy. Joe would always end any speech with an Irish Blessing. Joe, may the road rise up to meet you.’”

Ryan Eigenbrode, associate athletic director, conducted most of the research and writing for this tribute.

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