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Columbia University Director of Athletics Dianne Murphy

Dr. M. Dianne Murphy has been Columbia University’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education since November 2004. In her first year-and-a-half at the helm of the athletics program at Columbia, she has demonstrated the same passion and commitment to achieving excellence in intercollegiate athletics that has marked her entire career as an athletics administrator.

Murphy has overseen a number of initiatives aimed at transforming the experience of Columbia University’s more than 800 student-athletes. She has undertaken a complete strategic planning process aimed at short- and long-term excellence in athletics. She has attracted several new high-level head coaches and administrators to the program, and spearheaded the creation of the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame, which had its inaugural ceremony on February 18, 2006.

Success on game day had followed. In 2005-06, two Columbia teams finished among the top 15 in the nation at the NCAA Championships. The wrestling team produced a school-record seven placewinners at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships and women’s swimming and diving had its best-ever finish at the Ivy League Championships.

Murphy came to Columbia after six years as Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Denver, where she led the Pioneers’ program from NCAA Division II to one of the nation’s top Division I athletics programs. Under Murphy’s leadership, eight Denver sport programs made NCAA tournament appearances and, on four occasions, Denver teams won a national title.

In 2003-04, Denver enjoyed its best season when it won the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, placed third in the NCAA Skiing Championship, and advanced to NCAA tournaments in women’s soccer, women’s tennis, and men and women’s golf.

Many Denver teams advanced to NCAA Regional tournaments in Murphy’s six years. The women’s gymnastics team made six consecutive appearances in the NCAA Regionals; other NCAA competitors included women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s tennis and men and women’s golf.

The scope of Denver’s athletics excellence was recognized nationally through the United States Sports Academy’s Directors’ Cup, which recognized the best overall athletics programs in the nation, determined by an award of points based on teams’ finishes. The University of Denver finished among the nation’s top third of athletics programs in each of its six years since becoming a Division I member in 1998-99. In 2004, the Pioneers set a University record when they finished 58th in the Directors’ Cup, in the top 20 percent of all NCAA Division I schools.

Denver’s athletics program served as a model for national and regional academic, as well as athletics, excellence. The Pioneers gained numerous academic honors, among them the Sun Belt Conference Graduation Rate Award, which it earned for five consecutive years.

Prior to joining the University of Denver, Murphy served as associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Cornell University from 1995 to 1998. She oversaw nine Division I sports, marketing and promotions, sports information and alumni and booster activities. She helped hire football and basketball coaches and was an advocate for the coaches. Cornell enhanced its equity initiatives and increased its fundraising revenues under her guidance.

From 1988 to 1995, she was the assistant athletics director at The University of Iowa, serving as the university’s lead administrator with regard to external activities. She worked on behalf of Iowa’s coaches, and was effective in enhancing a strong compliance program.

Murphy began her athletics administrative career in 1987-88 as the assistant athletics director at Kentucky State University. From 1986 to 1988, she chaired the school’s Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, served as an associate professor and advised undergraduate students.

Recently, she took a major step to ensure that other women and people of color will readily discern the paths to top leadership positions in intercollegiate athletics by establishing her Distinguished Lecture Series in Sport Management at Florida State University, which granted her a doctorate in 1980.

As part of the series, which was made possible through her $50,000 gift to Florida State’s College of Education, each spring semester a distinguished speaker will be invited to talk about the role of women and people of color as administrators in intercollegiate athletics. Murphy herself was the keynote speaker at the inaugural version of the series this spring.

Prior to becoming an administrator, Murphy coached basketball for 13 years. She was the head women’s basketball coach at Shorter College (1973-76), Florida State University (1976-79) and Eastern Kentucky University (1979-86).

Highly effective as a university administrator, she also has excelled in external positions. As a member of the Metro Denver Sports Commission, Murphy helped win the bid to bring the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Regional and Frozen Four to Denver in 2007 and 2008, respectively. She was named to the 2004 NCAA Gambling Task Force.

Murphy was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Administrator of the Year in 2004. She chaired the NCAA Division I Basketball Issues Committee from 2002 to 2004 and currently is a member of the State Farm Wade Trophy Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Committee. She also serves on the NCAA Certification and Diversity committees and the Board of Directors for the Women’s Collegiate Sports Awards, the organization that presents the Honda Award and the Honda-Broderick Cup.

She is active in several national organizations, including the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the WBCA. She was named NACWAA’s Division I-AAA National Administrator of the Year for 2000-01 and served as NACWAA’s president during 2002-03. In 2004, NACDA honored her as the General Sports Turf West Athletic Director of the Year. The All-American Football Foundation has presented her with the Senior Sports Administrator Award.

At Columbia, she helped initiate the University’s Sports Management master’s degree program. She serves on the faculty as an instructor.

Murphy holds a Ph.D. in administration and curriculum from Florida State (1980), and master’s (1973) and bachelor’s (1972) degrees from Tennessee Technological University. The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association honored her with its 2005 Distinguished Alumna Award. Florida State presented her with its ”Grad Made Good“ award at its 2005 Homecoming.

She lives in Manhattan, near the Columbia campus.