Dave Roach, who resigned as athletic director this summer, first arrived at Brown in 1978 to coach women’s swimming. After eight years, he left to coach women’s swimming at Tennessee; he returned in 1990 as athletic director. Since then, Brown has won sixty-two Ivy League or Eastern championships, made thirty-six NCAA Tournament appearances, and won eight national titles, including four NCAA championships. Roach was inducted into the Brown University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.
BAM Why are you leaving Brown?
Roach After spending twenty-two of the last twenty-six years here, it’s time to have new challenges. I think I’m more of a builder and renovator than I am a maintainer.
BAM What do you anticipate missing the most?
Roach Definitely the student-athletes. Some of the ones I’ve really gotten to know have become friends. I’ll certainly miss that. I’ll miss the athletic staff, of course. They’ve been terrific; but I’ll also miss a lot of the alums and supporters who have become not just alums or donors or supporters but, in a lot of cases, real good friends. I’ll still be in contact with a lot of them.
BAM What do you anticipate missing the least?
Roach I think that after you’ve been at a place for a long period of time, you tend to get frustrated as things change and what was a lot easier to do before now becomes more difficult.
BAM What’s most difficult about being an AD at an Ivy League school?
Roach The toughest part of the job is that the eight athletic directors definitely have the best interests of the student-athlete in mind and yet sometimes athletic directors’ recommendations—on Ivy League rules or ways to improve the athletic experience—get questioned or voted down because people above us—the policy committee or the league presidents—think it’s just the athletic directors wanting more and more. But really, if you talk to the student-athletes, you would really understand what they want to do. They want to compete. They’re not sacrificing their academics.
BAM From your start in 1990, what areas of this job have you made the most strides in?
Roach We’ve certainly increased the budget. It was about $4 million when I got here, and now it’s about $11 million. We’ve increased the size of the staff so that we’re more competitive with everybody else nationally and in the league. We’ve brought in a lot of organization and fiscal responsibility.
BAM Are there any particular actions you’d like to take a mulligan on?
RoachAnybody who has to make a decision, if you’d tell them the results before they made the decision, obviously all the decisions would be easy. We’ve had to make tough decisions at times, but we’ve been able to do that. Show me somebody that everybody loved every minute of their career, and I’ll show you somebody who’s never made a decision.
BAM What achievements are you most proud of?
Roach The relationship we have with the Vartan Gregorian Fox Point Elementary School. It’s something that we started thirteen years ago. The relationships that have developed between Brown student-athletes and the classrooms at Fox Point have been something special. We’ve had a lot of great wins and some tough losses, but Fox Point Elementary School will always stay with us.
BAM Are you leaving behind any unfinished business?
Roach The one thing I would have liked to have seen decided is which needs of the entire athletic department and of the student-athletes will be included in the next University fund-raising campaign. Obviously, the need for a fitness center is there. There’s also a lot of need both in intramural and varsity athletics.
BAM How effective was Brown’s position on the Title IX case?
Roach If you believe that an opportunity is a place on a team, a place being supported by resources and coaching, and not a person, then I believe Brown’s position was defendable. But if an opportunity is only defined by the people who cross the line and go out for a team, then it’s more difficult to prove your point.
BAM How important was the legal battle?
Roach It’s one of those things, as I said before:
if you knew what the outcome was going to be, you might not have made the decision that you made. But I do have to credit President Gregor-ian for saying we did something that we think is right.
BAM Have sports at Brown been changed by the case?
Roach You’d like to feel that we would have done the right thing whether we had the case or not. Title IX was in place, but it really wasn’t getting the attention or notoriety that it would get a few years down the road. I’d like to think that Brown, which started all these women’s programs before anyone else, would have done the right thing, and I think we were moving in that direction when we got hit by the case.
BAM Should the Ivy League football champion participate in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs?
Roach Yes. And the big question is, why not? If every other student-athlete on the Ivy campuses can go to the NCAA Tournament and have that experience, why not football?
BAM What advice do you want to give to your successor?
Roach One, I’d say, you have an excellent staff and group of coaches in place. Leave them alone and let them do their jobs and be someone that they can rely on to support them. I would also say, figure out a way to reach out more to the academic side and bridge that gap that sometimes exists between athletics and academics. Continue to let people know that you can do both and that both can mutually exist.
BAM When Colgate plays Brown in hockey next winter, will you be rooting for Colgate or rooting for a tie?
Roach I’ll always have a fond spot in my heart for Brown. As I told the staff the day I announced my resignation, when I wake up in the morning and look at the newspaper, the first thing I’ll do is look at the sports page to see how Brown teams did, because they know me well enough to know I’m going to know how the Colgate teams did before I go to bed.