Niagara University Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin has accepted the athletic director position at Virginia Commonwealth University, it was announced on Tuesday.
"I want to thank Ed McLaughlin for his work at Niagara University. We are very pleased with his success as the director of athletics, but we are even more proud of the way he lived the mission of Niagara University," said Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University. "Ed always placed the highest standards of excellence on himself and the entire department. The Niagara University community wishes blessings for success on Ed in his new role at VCU, and we will always be proud of his service as a Purple Eagle."
McLaughlin has been the leader of the athletic department for the past six years. During his tenure, McLaughlin made Niagara athletics a contender in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, College Hockey America and Atlantic Hockey Association, improved facilities and increased the program's brand regionally and nationally.
"I want to thank Father Levesque, Mike Jaszka, Bob Dwyer and Jeff Holzschuh for giving me the opportunity six years ago to lead the Purple Eagles," McLaughlin said. "The experience I have had at Niagara University has been invaluable; however I cannot pass up this opportunity for my family."
In his first year, McLaughlin led a department that won MAAC championships in men's basketball and women's soccer, as well as a CHA regular-season title in men's ice hockey. The men's basketball team won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 37 years when it defeated Florida A&M in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The following athletic season, the men's hockey team won the 2008 CHA Tournament on home ice and clinched its third berth into the NCAA Tournament. The volleyball program has won three straight MAAC Tournament titles and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances with the program's first coming in 2009.
Under McLaughlin's leadership, renewed efforts in the external areas of the department led to more than a half-million dollar increase in revenue, two-straight single-season attendance record in men's hockey, the best attendance totals in men's basketball history (2009-10), a video Web-streaming package for all men's and women's basketball and hockey home games, and numerous national television appearances. He also created the Niagara Sports Network, a television network that broadcasts men's basketball and hockey contests to millions of homes throughout the country.
McLaughlin spearheaded multi-million dollar facility projects with renovations to Dwyer Arena and the Gallagher Center and the addition of Niagara Field, created a student-athlete code of conduct and hired nine head coaches. In the summer of 2011, McLaughlin initiated the Gallagher Center renovation project, which included new offices, locker rooms and lounges for the men's and women's basketball teams and a new athletic training room.
McLaughlin's leadership led him to numerous national positions in college athletics administration. McLaughlin was elected to the Division I-AAA Athletics Director Association executive committee for the 2011-12 term, is the chair of the CHA directors committee and the chairman of the NCAA hockey rules committee. In 2010, McLaughlin completed a two-year stint as the commissioner of the CHA conference, while becoming the chair of the MAAC committee on athletic administration.
Niagara student-athletes performed well in the classroom, with 66 percent of student-athletes earning a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during his tenure. The student-athletes posted the highest overall grade-point average in school history (3.30) in 2007-08, and 70 percent of the student-athletes achieved a 3.0 or higher for the Past three seasons.
The Natick, Mass., native came to Niagara from American University where he served as associate athletic director for external affairs from 2004-06 and assistant athletic director for facilities from 2000-03. McLaughlin also worked at Merrimack College (1997-2000) and the Hockey East Conference (1995-97).
"I also want to thank our student-athletes and coaches for giving me so many reasons to cheer for them over the last six years," McLaughlin said. "Niagara University holds a special place in my heart and I will always root for the Purple Eagles."