Mollie Marcoux ’91 will be the new director of athletics, the University announced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Marcoux will succeed Gary Walters ’67, who held the post for 20 years and took the University’s varsity teams to unprecedented success in the Ivy League.
A former women’s ice hockey standout, Marcoux earned eight varsity letters over four years in soccer and hockey. Worthy of note, she was named to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s team of the decade.
She will be the first female athletic director at the University and one of the first in the country. In 2013, only five athletic directors were female among the top collegiate athletic programs, the Chronicle for Higher Education reported.
Her most recent career post was as an executive director at Chelsea Piers, a management organization which oversees athletic and entertainment complexes in New York City and Connecticut. In an early-2012 Stamford Patch publication about her appointment to oversee the company’s Connecticut complex, the company’s president was quoted saying, “She is a former collegiate athlete, a mother and a committed team player who understands how to run a business while keeping the perspective of customers and athletes in mind.”
Additionally, she previously worked at the Lawrenceville School.
She will report to Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey, who chaired the search committee and introduced her appointment.
The appointment marks the end of a seven-month long search. The search was conducted by a special selection committee consisting of students, coaches, faculty and alumni.
During his introduction, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said that Marcoux embodies the ideals of “Education through Athletics,” a motto developed by Walters which has become his signature philosophy when it comes to defending the relationship between sports and the liberal arts. He added that Marcoux understands what it means to be a scholar-athlete, emphasizing that both words should have equal weight.
The announcement took place in Jadwin Gymnasium, directly below a scoreboard that reads “Education through Athletics.”
Outgoing director Walters began his association with Princeton athletics 50 years ago. He played point guard alongside Bill Bradley ’65 during the Tigers’ 1965 Final Four run. During his 20-year tenure as athletic director, Princeton teams have won 214 Ivy League championships. Additionally, he served as the 2006-07 NCAA Division I men’s basketball committee chair.
Eisgruber spoke in highly congratulatory terms when thanking the search committee for its efforts throughout the process which eventually resulted in Marcoux’s selection. He characterized the search as having been conducted “with integrity and imagination.”
Further, the University’s president expressed his appreciation for the man he first referred to as “Mollie’s legendary predecessor.”
“In an era when too many collegiate athletic programs have tarnished the ideals that they purport to uphold,” he said, “Gary Walters has made Princeton’s an unsurpassed example of what a university athletic program can and should be.”
“This is a huge job and huge opportunity,” Marcoux said when asked what challenges she would expect to face. “I think the whole thing will be challenging.”
During the press conference, repeated votes of confidence were offered by Eisgruber and the newly-appointed Marcoux. Additionally, a number of sources the ‘Prince’ spoke with during the reception following the conference expressed the respect for and confidence in Marcoux many members of the athletic community have.
“She has, I think, a deep understanding of what it means to be a student-athlete,” men’s basketball head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 explained. “We had a really good candidate pool, but she really emerged as the right fit for us.”
Henderson was one of two coaches to serve on the search committee.
During the reception, Eisgruber expressed his conviction that Marcoux would bring an appreciation of Princeton athletics’ traditional values and “an intense competitive fire” to her new position.
Walters, when asked if the motto of “Education through Athletics” would remain for the department, said, “Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s who we are.”
He spoke with this level of confidence in his accomplishments as he looked on at the all-department photo being taken in front of him. Marcoux was featured in the center of coaches, staff members and student-athletes alike. Now in the twilight of his career, Walters looked at the bleachers filled with orange and black knowing that he was the architect of the arrangement before him.