Longtime Athletic Director Don DiJulia Receives Honorary Degree

By Atlantic 10 Conference

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Courtesy: Atlantic 10 Conference

PHILADELPHIA - Don DiJulia, a legend in the city of Philadelphia and the entire intercollegiate arena, served as Saint Joseph's University's Commencement speaker last weekend and received an honorary doctorate at the ceremony. The Atlantic 10 Conference established the Don DiJulia Athletic Director Internship this spring in honor of his service to athletics. 

DiJulia is celebrating his 50th year in college athletics this year, highlighted by his long tenure at SJU, that includes serving as director of athletics from 1976-1984 and from 1988 to the present. The internship will be awarded annually to a candidate aspiring to become an athletic director, who will serve a 10-month apprenticeship for the Atlantic 10 Conference. Included will be an opportunity for the intern to spend time on the campus of an A-10 member institution, shadowing the current athletic director and senior staff during both the fall and spring semesters. A perpetual plaque will be placed in the A-10 office, recognizing the annual Atlantic 10 Conference Don DiJulia Athletic Director interns.

A 1967 graduate of Saint Joseph’s and member of the Hawk baseball and basketball teams as an undergraduate, DiJulia has worn many hats.  His career began in coaching, with a one-year stint as assistant baseball coach for the Hawks in 1968. He then went on to assistant basketball coaching positions at Fairfield University, George Washington University and American University. DiJulia left Saint Joseph’s in 1981 to become commissioner of the East Coast Conference, a position he held for two years before taking the commissioner's job at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference from 1984 to 1988.

A memorable day for a most memorable Hawk, Don DiJulia

The following is an excerpt from Philly.com writer, Mike Jensen. To read the entire story, click here.

Don DiJulia tried to negotiate his way out of the commencement address. Almost worked, but here the St. Joseph’s athletic director was Saturday morning, inside Hagan Arena like usual — except this time there was no practice or game, just the 2018 graduation class of Hawks filling the floor, parents in the stands cheering, DiJulia on the stage in academic regalia receiving an honorary doctorate, then delivering the commencement.

DiJulia was told 10-12 minutes was best for such speeches and he came in at 11 minutes and 8 seconds. DiJulia told the graduates they’d need to be nimble, to work to be part of a team — “it’s toughest to go it alone.” DiJulia later added: “The choice is yours: spectator or impact player? Drain or fountain?” Offering advice from St. Ignatius, DiJulia said, “When he gathered his band of six brothers in his locker room to share a vision to change the world, he kept it simple.”

For 35 years as St. Joe’s athletic director before retiring at the end of the month, DiJulia did the same. His tenure goes back 42 years, but he left for a stint as commissioner of two college leagues before returning in 1988. It’s hard to believe that anyone in college sports spent more time just trying to get it right.

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