A Year to Remember : Loyola Had Extraordinarily Fine Seasons in Basketball, Baseball
Brian Quinn, completing his first year as athletic director at Loyola Marymount University, sat back during a lunch this week and said with a sigh, “I’m tired. I’m just worn out.”
The excitement isn’t quite over for Quinn. The school year finally ended when Loyola was knocked out of the college baseball World Series. Now Quinn is getting ready to move from Irvine to Manhattan Beach.
It’s been a hectic year for the former Loyola basketball and baseball player but, between the daily Irvine-to-Westchester commutes, Quinn has been in on an exciting and successful year.
It’s safe to say that 1985-86 was Loyola Marymount’s most noteworthy and newsworthy athletic year ever. And from the day he was named last year--just in time to have newly appointed basketball Coach Jim Lynam resign and move to Philadelphia--Quinn has not lacked topics for attention.
There was the whirlwind hiring of Paul Westhead as basketball coach. There was the sudden departure of basketball player Steve Haney, expected to be a star for the Lions. There was the rousing start by Westhead’s team in league play, resulting in the school’s first-ever sellout of Gersten Pavilion for a showdown with Pepperdine. Then there was the school’s first-ever appearance in the National Invitation Tournament and a victory over UC Berkeley.
Soon after, Dave Snow’s baseball team reached national prominence and drew a No. 1 ranking--believed to be the school’s first ever in a major sport--and went on to win its first Western Regional and appear for the first time in the College World Series.
Along the way Quinn also established a Loyola Sports Hall of Fame and rearranged the athletic department, all the while staying quietly in the background. But unlike the Lone Ranger, Quinn isn’t ready to ride off into the sunset.
“It’s been a wonderful year--a lot of satisfaction, lots of good feelings,” Quinn said. “I see a great future. I think we’ve got the right ingredients to be successful. I think the support base is there.
“I want our major sports to continue their successes. In the past there’ve been isolated good teams. I want to make sure those programs continue to be successful within our conference.”
Toward that end Quinn sees his job as “a support person for the coaching staff--I take care of the political stuff and all the distractions and let them coach. I’m not taking glory for the teams.”
Quinn’s goals for this year--to help the school’s showcase sports, basketball and baseball, be competitive--were successful beyond the school’s dreams. And several other teams--women’s volleyball, club rugby, tennis and crew--were competitive and have many athletes returning next season.
With that base, Quinn has set his sights on:
Maintaining success in basketball and baseball. Westhead will be trying to replace Keith Smith and Forrest Walton-McKenzie, who became the school’s all-time scoring leaders last winter. Either could become the school’s first-ever first-round draft choice in next week’s National Basketball Assn. draft.
Westhead and Snow have been mentioned this spring in nearly every job opening, which makes Quinn proud and anxious at the same time. “I don’t want to lose them,” he said. “It’s a compliment that they’re in demand. Because they’re outstanding they’ll always be rumored. I don’t think that’s terribly unusual. I worry about it but both of them love it here. I feel they’re very committed to the school. They’re part of the Loyola family. If I can provide a supportive atmosphere I feel they’ll stay.”
Bolstering the women’s program, primarily volleyball, under Coach Nancy Fortner, and basketball under Todd Corman. All women’s coaches work on a part-time basis. “I want the program to pick up, get some credibility so they receive some respect,” Quinn said. “I think volleyball is very close, and Todd has recruited some very good athletes.”
Increasing budgets, particularly for the smaller sports. “So many need funds,” he said. “I want to challenge alumni who . . . played those sports to get involved. The NCAA has put us in an uncompromising position.” Division I schools are required to field teams in six men’s and six women’s sports.
Quinn hopes to get increased funding from the school as well as raise money through donations and fund-raisers.
“I’d like to see all our sports competitive in the West Coast Athletic Conference and within the framework of Loyola Marymount.”
Maintaining an on-schedule graduation rate for athletes. “That’s our primary role. There’s no hiding of athletes in physical education courses here,” he said. Most of the basketball team is staying around the campus and taking classes this summer. “We want to get them to graduate in four years,” Quinn said.
Improving the school’s intramural program, which he also oversees. “I want more hours for facilities and more selection,” he said. Among the improvements expected for next fall is a new weight room open to all students.
In the more distant future, increasing scholarship allocations and full-time coaching positions. Only Westhead, Snow and their assistants are full-time coaches. “To retain quality coaches, sometime downstream we have to move toward full-time,” Quinn said. And to compete with programs like UCLA and USC in such sports as volleyball and tennis, the school needs to be able to offer scholarships.