DANBURY, Conn. – Suffolk University Emeritus Director of Athletics James E. Nelson will be inducted into the ECAC Hall of Fame apart of the 2017 Class Friday, April 28, the organization announced last week.
Nelson is one of 10 inductees to be joining the Hall of Fame, which was established in 2015 to recognize former student-athletes, coaches, administrators, teams, officials and support staff for outstanding achievements, service, dedication, commitment, and contributes to the ECAC. The ECAC Hall of Fame selection committee, comprised of representatives from a variety of different ECAC constituency groups, meets annually to determine the year's induction class.
This is the third recognition and highest honor by the ECAC for Nelson as he was the 2013 recipient of the ECAC's Commissioner's Award, presented for significant accomplishment in his profession, and the 2015 recipient as the James Lynah Distinguished Service Award, which is bestowed annually to former ECAC athletic administrators who have achieved outstanding success in their career and have made an unusual contribution in the interest of intercollegiate athletics, the NCAA and the ECAC.
Nelson served as the Rams director of athletics from 1975 to 2013 and oversaw a period of tremendous growth, expanding expansion. Up until 1991, Suffolk athletics were played largely at the Cambridge YMCA where Nelson spent plenty of time during his first decade at the University. Thanks to the help of former University President Daniel Pearlman, Nelson and others, Suffolk opened the doors to its first ever athletic facility, the Ridgeway Gym, in 1991. Under his rein, the Rams have won a combined 11 conference crowns, competed in 27 ECAC Division III New England Championship tournaments, winning the 2000 baseball title, and qualified for eight NCAA tournaments.
In addition to bringing the Rams their first ever athletic facility, Nelson helped Suffolk sports become a full-time member of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) during the 1999-2000 academic year.
Among the legendary coaches he hired during his tenure was former baseball coach Cary McConnell, who remains with the Rams to this day after nearly two decades and has since stepped in Nelson's shoes as the third athletic director in Suffolk's history.
The Boston College graduate began his time at Suffolk in 1966 when he was named assistant director of athletics and assistant basketball coach. After nine years at the University, the former college basketball player was named athletic director and men's basketball coach in 1975. Nelson served in both posts simultaneously until 1995, when he hung up his coaching whistle and focused solely on leading the athletic department.
After his tenure in the athletic department, Nelson has remained closely involved within athletics and the University, who has kept his legacy presented with the Coach James E. Nelson Endowed Scholarship.
Jack Ford will serve as this year's master of ceremonies, which will be held at the Matrix Conference & Banquet Center in Danbury, Connecticut. Ford currently serves on the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors. As a veteran news correspondent for CBS & ABC, Ford has been associated with 20/20, Good Morning America and has also served as moderator of ESPN's The Sports Reporters. Throughout his career, Ford has received two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, an American Radio and Television Award, and a National Headliner Award.
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