Former athletic director led UConn into era of BIG EAST Conference
STORRS, Conn. (February 28, 2009) – Former University of Connecticut Director of Athletics John Toner was inducted into the school’s “Huskies of Honor” at the men’s basketball game vs. Notre Dame on Saturday in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
John Toner and his family at the "Huskies of Honor" induction ceremony on Saturday (above)
The “Huskies of Honor” program began during the 2006-07 season and pays visible tribute in Gampel Pavilion to the top student-athletes, coaches and contributors in UConn men's and women's basketball history.
Toner served as UConn’s Director of Athletics from 1969-87 and originally came to the school as the head football coach – a role he served from 1966-70.
In the spring of 1979, Toner accepted an invitation for the University of Connecticut to become a charter member of the BIG EAST Conference. That decision removed Connecticut athletics from its New England-based regional roots and during the past 30 years UConn has risen to a nationally-recognized athletics program that has won 11 NCAA national championships in four different sports, including seven national titles in the sport of basketball.
Among Toner’s many other notable achievements during his tenure as Director of Athletics was the hiring of a pair of eventual Hall of Fame coaches – women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma in 1985 and men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun in 1986.
John Toner is joined by current UConn Director of Athletics Jeffrey Hathaway and Special Adviser For Athletics and former men's basketball coach Dee Rowe.
He also directed the planning, funding and design for the UConn Sports Center Complex (including the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion) – which opened its doors in January of 1990.
Each member of the “Huskies of Honor” is recognized with a commemorative panel in Gampel Pavilion. In addition to the large individual panels, each honoree also has a plaque that will be on display on the lobby level of Gampel Pavilion. The plaques include a photo of each honoree and summarize their top career achievements.
Toner served as president of the NCAA from 1983-85 and was president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) in 1980-81. He currently serves as vice chairman of the National Football Foundation.
A total of 13 men’s basketball student-athletes, 10 women’s basketball student-athletes, men’s coaches Hugh Greer, Dee Rowe and Jim Calhoun, women’s coach Geno Auriemma, and the 1995 Women’s Basketball National Championship Team are currently enshrined as members of the UConn “Huskies of Honor” program.
John Toner was also introduced at the UConn women's basketball game on Saturday night.