After sifting nearly 80 applications from across the nation, Loyola Marymount University reached into its past to place its athletic future in the hands of Brian Quinn.
Quinn was announced as the new athletic director this week and takes over July 1. He resigned as assistant principal at Woodbridge High in Irvine to return to the Westchester campus where he was a basketball and baseball star in the early 1960s. He graduated with a degree in business administration in 1963.
Quinn, 43, has remained an active alumnus and booster and his oldest son, Andy, attends Loyola.
In a press conference, Quinn said he hopes to tap his intimate knowledge of Loyola and its alumni to move the program "in the direction of excellence."
Goal: 'Turn the Corner'
"I feel I can bring back a number of the alumni who are out there. There are people who are very influential in Los Angeles, lawyers and doctors, who are ready to come back. They're waiting for us to turn the corner."
Quinn replaces Robert Arias, who has accepted a different post at Loyola after five years as athletic director. Under Arias the school made strides in upgrading to Division I in all sports and built a new fieldhouse and new baseball stadium. But most Loyola teams have found success tantalizingly out of reach, and attendance in the new facilities has lagged.
Quinn said he does not necessarily equate excellence or improvement with matching the feats of other parochial schools such as Georgetown or Marquette, which have won national basketball titles in the last decade. "I don't see that as a goal," he said. "What I want to do is run a class program within the philosophy, budget and rules of the West Coast Athletic Conference. We need to be as successful as we can be in Los Angeles. I know that the university can do that."
Quinn, looking trim and youthful, sporting short, curly red hair and a ready smile, appears articulate, confident, knowledgeable and--above all--enthusiastic.
It may be that last quality that made him the choice of the school's president, Father James N. Loughran, from four finalists. Before the final choice, Quinn met with a search committee, then with administration officials and coaches and athletic department officials. "I think I interviewed (with) everyone in the university who has a title," Quinn said with a smile.
In his interview with Loughran, Quinn said he impressed on the president "my commitment to the university and my deep feeling for it. . . . I think the president felt good about that."
Dr. Henry Durand, vice president for student affairs, who oversees athletics and introduced Quinn, said the school received "well over 70, close to 80" serious applications from across the U.S.
"It was a very arduous task to get down to one," Durand said. "We felt very strongly Brian had the qualities to take Loyola Marymount where we want it to go. He's someone we feel very confident in."
Quinn, who helped assist in the creation of University, Irvine and Woodbridge high schools in Orange County, has a master's degree in secondary education from Cal State Long Beach and has held a series of education and administrative positions in the Irvine school district. He has coached sports and been athletic director on the high school level and helped establish sports programs around Irvine, including a thriving volleyball scene. He has also been an industrial engineer.
Quinn, who seems businesslike and describes himself as analytical, said he thinks his sports experience coupled with his education and business background make him not only qualified but acceptable to the faculty. "I feel I have experience, plus I know the university. I know I have the support of a lot of faculty."
Quinn said the early emphasis will be on success in the most visible sports--men's basketball and baseball, women's basketball and volleyball--but he said he has not discussed any changes with Loughran and will spend the summer examining "needs assessments" with coaches before making decisions.
"I'm not here to put people in the seats. The teams will put people in the seats if they're successful," Quinn said. "We need to be successful in those four (sports). I do feel if you are successful (in athletics) the school prospers.
He'll Handle Details
"My main function is to serve as a support vehicle for the coaches. I don't want them to have to worry about a lot of detail things. My first step will be to meet with every coach. The first few months will be nothing more than meeting with coaches."
Quinn said he will also try to make himself as visible as possible within the West Coast Athletic Conference. "I will get very involved in the NCAA. I want to be a very visible athletic director. I think if you're going to get anything done you need to get along. I'm going to get to know the athletic directors in the WCAC. I want people, when they see me, to know that's the Loyola athletic director."
Quinn may find that a less perfect marriage than he envisions. The conference includes a staff that anonymously got Loyola basketball star Forrest McKenzie declared ineligible last year on a 7-year-old technicality. "I don't expect that (cutthroat attitude)," Quinn said. "You're always apprehensive when you start something new but . . . I'm optimistic."
Quinn was a three-year starting guard in basketball and three-year starting center fielder in baseball at Loyola after winning all-league honors in both sports at Serra High in Gardena. As a sophomore in 1960-61 he played on Loyola's last WCAC champ and last 20-game winner in basketball.
Coached, Taught, Administered
He coached several sports at St. Bernard and St. Anthony high schools before moving to Orange County, where he has concentrated on the academic and administrative side for about the last decade.
He has, however, remained active, playing competitive volleyball until 1978 when his team won a national title. He still plays volleyball and tennis recreationally.
Quinn said his wife, Collette, spotted Loyola's advertisement for the position and he applied the same day. "I said, 'Wow, that's exciting,' " he recalled.
Quinn, who feels he can identify with the coaches, has met with first-year baseball Coach Dave Snow and new basketball Coach Jim Lynam and termed the staff "outstanding."
"I feel very comfortable with this staff. I know they will be successful," he said.
He said he might be able to help with recruiting immediately in Orange County and respects Loyola's tough entrance standards, though he might fight for the occasional exception. "I do believe a student can pass any university as long as they have the right attitude, get the help and have the basic tools," he said.