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A Baltimore native, Gene Corrigan began his collegiate career in 1955 as an assistant coach of basketball, soccer and lacrosse at Washington and Lee University. Three years later, he began his first association with the University of Virginia as the head lacrosse and soccer coach and assistant basketball coach. He relinquished his assistant coaching duties in basketball after three years and began working as Virginia’s sports information director.

Corrigan was promoted to Director of Athletics in 1971, a position he held for the next decade. During that time Corrigan wrote a report advocating taking athletics more seriously by investing resources, without sacrificing academic integrity.

University President Frank Hereford went along, and Corrigan had what he would call “a blueprint for success.” His eye for talent also transformed the department. Among his coaching hires were Terry Holland, Debbie Ryan, and Bruce Arena, all of whom took their sports at the University to unprecedented heights.

A pioneer in college athletics, Corrigan assumed his role as the third full-time commissioner of the ACC on Sept. 1, 1987 and led the conference until his retirement in December 1996. In addition to his duties as commissioner, Corrigan also served as the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association from 1995-97.

“When Gene hired me at the University of Virginia straight out of graduate school, it was one of the luckiest days of my life,” said former ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “That day began a relationship and mentorship that lasted nearly half a century. Simply put, Gene was one of the most remarkable individuals, and leaders, I have ever known. His impact on the ACC and college athletics was profound and immeasurable, only surpassed by his impact on the individuals he positively affected – and there are a multitude of us.”

Corrigan has been recognized by countless organizations for his service to college athletics including the National Football Foundation’s highest honor – the Gold Medal (1996), Duke University Alumnus of the Year (1996), National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1993, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.

Gene Corrigan

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