Navy's Jack Lengyel
July 16, 2001
ANNAPOLIS, Md.- Jack Lengyel announced Monday that he will retire from his position as Director of Athletics at the Naval Academy effective Oct. 1.
"I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to represent the United States Naval Academy as Director of Athletics," said Lengyel. "I've had the privilege to serve the finest coaches and athletic staff in the country. Together, we've made major facility improvements that will provide our varsity athletic teams a competitive edge in the future. After 13 years as Director of Athletics it is time for me to turn over the leadership of the athletic department. I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family and doing the things that I've never had the time to do as a coach or Director of Athletics. Retiring Oct. 1 will allow the Naval Academy sufficient time for their search and will allow a smooth transition to have a Director of Athletics on board for the second semester.
"All of us at the United States Naval Academy are very appreciative of Jack Lengyel's 13 years of dedicated service at the helm of the Naval Academy Athletic Association," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. John R. Ryan, USN. "Jack Lengyel's broad experience, national reputation, strong work ethic and love of this institution have been key to our raising the bar of excellence throughout his tenure under five Superintendent's. Jack leaves behind a solid organization filled with many talented coaches and staff that will continue to help us mold scholar-athletes of great character and competence. Thanks to a heads up from Jack, we have already taken the first steps in forming a search committee and establishing the process that will help us select his successor in a timely manner. Jack and his wife, Sandy, have been and will continue to be mainstays in our Naval Academy family. We will always be grateful for their many significant contributions to this institution."
Since his arrival at Navy in August 1988 as the school's 27th Director of Athletics, Lengyel has worked constantly to market Navy athletics, acquiring the necessary funds for a 30-sport program, one of the largest in the country. Group ticket sales have been stimulated through the creation of NAVYFEST, which highlights the festive atmosphere of Navy football games. Also implemented were the Billy the Kid family ticket plan for football games, the Admirals Fleet, which provides tickets to Navy football games to the underprivileged youth of Annapolis, new concession areas at the stadium and a weekly quarterback club luncheon. The Navy Football Radio Network has been expanded to include WMAL Radio in Washington, D.C. and WJFK in Baltimore, Md.
Navy has won nearly 60 percent of its contests every year in Lengyel's tenure and the Mids have won the season series against Army in 11 of those 13 years. One reason for Navy's success is Lengyel's hiring of outstanding coaches in football, men's and women's basketball, golf, women's soccer, women's track, lacrosse, baseball, women's volleyball and men's gymnastics.
To compete successfully at the Division I level, Lengyel realized that not only do you need tremendous coaches, but outstanding facilities, as well. He has worked tirelessly to make the Naval Academy facilities some of the best in the country.
The litany of facility improvements is extensive. The $30 million Alumni Hall was completed in 1991 and is the venue for the Midshipmen men's and women's basketball games. Five years ago, the Rear Admiral Thomas Hamilton Locker Room complex was constructed at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, with a Football Walk of Fame. In that same time period, the Zachary Fisher Rowing Center was finished as part of a $850,000 renovation to Hubbard Hall, home of Navy's three intercollegiate crew squads, the Naval Academy Golf Course got a $250,000 clubhouse and a $500,000 watering system was installed. The spring of 1995 saw the completion of the $8 million Armel-Leftwich Visitors Center on the side of Halsey Field House, the opening of the $850,000 Admiral Fitzgerald Baseball Clubhouse at Bishop Stadium and the $9 million renovation and addition to Ricketts Hall. Recently the Naval Academy Athletic Association completed renovations of the varsity tennis center through private donations and the 4.2 million dollar Glenn Warner Soccer Facility will be completed this fall.
Facility improvements in progress include a $40 million expansion and renovation of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, a new indoor track facility and a major renovation of Halsey Field House.
Prior to his arrival in Annapolis, Lengyel gained recognition as Director of Athletics at Missouri, Fresno State and Louisville, and by his stature in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He is a past president of the latter organization and a past president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors. He is a member of the NACDA Division I-A Executive Committee and chairman of the NACDA Preseason Football Games Committee, which sponsors the Kickoff Classic and the Disney Pigskin Classic.
In 1990, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and to the Board of Directors of the United States Sports Academy. In 1991, he moved the Midshipmen from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Patriot League and elevated the women's intercollegiate program to Division I status. He was voted into the Summit County (Ohio) Sports Hall of Fame and was the 1991 Achievement Award winner from the Akron's Varsity "A" Association. In 1996, he was named to the Board of Directors of the College Football Association and chairman of the CFA's Athletic Directors Committee, and in 1997, he was enshrined into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to amateur football. Lengyel was a driving force behind the foundation's new program to include players and coaches from all divisions for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Also in 1997, he had an alley off historic Main Street in downtown Annapolis named after him by Mayor Al Hopkins for his contributions to the city of Annapolis.
The 1998-99 season was a memorable one for Lengyel on a personal level, as he was named the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors/National Invitation Tournament Athletic Director of the Year, received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Akron and was given an honorary doctorate by the United States Sports Academy.
In the spring of 2001, Lengyel received the highest honor awarded to an athletic director when he was named the winner of the James J. Corbett Award. The award is presented annually to the collegiate athletics administrator who "through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment." Corbett, athletics director at Louisiana State, was NACDA's first president in 1965. Additionally, Lengyel received an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute (SMI), an educational institute sponsored by the universities of Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Southern California and Texas, and NACDA. This award marks Lengyel's second enshrinement into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Lengyel's efforts to promote the Naval Academy's varsity athletic program included overseeing the production and national airing (CBS) of a one-hour documentary on the history of Navy football. "Anchors Aweigh for Honor and Glory," produced by NFL Films, was deemed a success by both critics and fans alike.
Lengyel headed Missouri's athletic program from 1986-88, aggressively marketing the Tiger football and basketball programs. As Athletics Director at Fresno State from 1983-86, he revived a program that was on probation, improved old facilities and added new ones. Eight Bulldog teams achieved Division 1-A top 20 ranking during his final 18 months there. The Bulldogs also won two California Bowl games and a NIT Championship in basketball.
Lengyel, a native of Akron, Ohio, won letters in football, lacrosse, swimming and track at Akron. He received his bachelor's degree in physical education from Akron in 1957 and earned a master's degree in education from Kent in 1960. He received a commission in the U.S. Army after completing the ROTC program at Akron, where he was the Distinguished Military Graduate. He later spent 12 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, achieving the rank of Captain.
His coaching career spanned a total of 18 years at all three NCAA levels, and he has been a head coach in football, lacrosse, baseball, wrestling and swimming on the collegiate level. He served on the staffs at Akron, Heidelberg, Cornell, Wooster, Marshall and Louisville.
In 1971, he went to Marshall to rebuild the football program there after a tragic plane crash wiped out the team and its coaches in 1970.
Lengyel and his wife, Sandra, have three children: David, a 1980 graduate of the Naval Academy and now a Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, who is currently the Executive Director of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel at NASA Headquarters, Peter, a Commander in the Navy and a 1984 graduate of the Academy, is currently attending the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., and Julie, a graduate of Kentucky. They also have six grandchildren.