Don Cook to Receive ECAC Commissioner's Award

Don Cook to Receive ECAC Commissioner's Award

FAIRFIELD, CT (September 12, 2013) - Sacred Heart University's Don Cook who recently retired after 20 years as the Pioneers' Executive Director of Athletics will received the 2013 ECAC Commissioner's Award.  Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Commissioner Dr. Kevin T. McGinniss announced his selections for the 2013 ECAC Commissioner’s Award on Wednesday.

Cook will be joined by University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Dr. Charles Brown, Adelphi University’s Robert Hartwell, Colby-Sawyer College’s Deb Field McGrath, and Suffolk University’s Jim Nelson in receiving the honor.  The group will receive their awards at the 2013 ECAC Honors Dinner sponsored by Jostens, held in conjunction with the 25th Annual ECAC Convention and Trade Show that will be held September 29 - October 1 at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, Mass. The Honors Dinner is on Sunday, September 29 at 6:30pm.

“It is my distinct pleasure to name Deb Field McGrath, C. Donald Cook, Dr. Charles Brown, Jim Nelson and Robert Hartwell recipients of the 2013 ECAC Commissioner’s Award,” said Commissioner McGinniss. “With all of the wonderful contributions these outstanding administrators have made to intercollegiate athletics, and in particular the ECAC, throughout their esteemed careers it is only just that they be recognized during our 75th Anniversary Celebration.”  

The ECAC Commissioner's Award was presented for the first time at the 2008 ECAC Convention and Trade Show.  It is presented for meritorious service to the ECAC or an ECAC member institution.  The recipient must have demonstrated significant accomplishment in his or her chosen professional field or on the athletic field.

Prior to his retirement in July, C. Donald Cook had been synonymous with intercollegiate athletics in Connecticut and the ECAC for nearly 50 years. Cook was a senior athletics administrator for 41 years, overseeing the athletics department at Sacred Heart University (20 years),  the University of Hartford (six years) and Fairfield University (15 years). Under his guidance, Sacred Heart University expanded its intercollegiate athletic program from 12 to 31 varsity sports and constructed several new facilities, including the $17.5 million William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center. In 1999, he led the Pioneers’ transition to NCAA Division I status as a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC), the ECAC, an associate member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in men’s wrestling and a founding member of the Atlantic Ice Hockey Association (AHA). 

While at the Fairfield University, Cook was the head baseball coach for 19 seasons and served as athletics director during the final 15. He supervised the construction of the Recreation Complex, the enlargement of Alumni Hall and the renovation of Alumni Field. On the diamond, 15 of Cook’s players played professionally. After leaving Fairfield in 1986, he moved to the University of Hartford, overseeing the building of an $11 million athletics complex as well as department’s move to NCAA Division I. 

Cook was a co-founder and the first president of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), president of the ECAC (1990), a member of the NCAA Council and served on the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Series and Football Championship Series Issues Committee. He chaired the NEC Athletic Director’s Committee from 2010 through 2012 and was a member of the conference’s Strategic Planning Committee. Cook served in a similar capacity with the AHA, chairing the Executive Committee and serving on the Association’s Strategic Planning Committee. He was the chair of the NEC Baseball Committee and Cost Containment Committee and member of the Membership Committee until his retirement.