For decades, Joseph Boylan was involved in athletics at Lafayette College and American, Rutgers and Loyola Maryland universities with a hand in the track records of wins and losses in programs at each institution.
But to the people who knew him best, his greatest success was connecting with the athletes, coaches and administrators who surrounded him.
“Joe loved X’s and O’s and loved to win, but what he taught us was that people and relationships are far more important than any championship, win or achievement,” Loyola Maryland women’s basketball coach Joe Logan, a 1996 graduate who served as a manager for the men’s basketball team and the women’s team, said in a statement distributed by the university. “Joe often said, ‘You find out how successful you are as a coach 2-30 years after your players graduate. Where are they in life and how did you help them get there?’ Joe personified the mantra that people will not remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
Added Therese “Teddi” Burns, the Greyhounds’ associate athletic director and senior woman administrator: “Joe had a way of making you feel unique, heard and valued. Our student-athletes at Loyola loved him, and he took the time to get to know them. He understood coaches and athletes because he had been in their shoes and he could relate to the pressure they were under. He had authentic relationships with them and gave them room to run their own programs, but he also knew when to step in and offer advice or just to be there and listen as they worked out an issue.”
Mr. Boylan, Loyola’s athletic director for 19 years, who helped five different sports attain varsity status and ushered in the opening of the 6,000-seat Ridley Athletic Complex, died Sunday at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, after suffering a stroke. He was 82.
Mr. Boylan’s passing initiated a flood of memories from people who worked for him and knew him.
“Everyone Joe met became his friend,” said Loyola’s president, the Rev. Brian F. Linnane. “He remembered people and knew their families, and he always went out of his way to say hello to everyone. He was a real gentleman, and he would be there for you. He always gave good advice — and, as president, I relied on him for that advice.”
Mr. Boylan grew up in the Sudbrook area of Baltimore and enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Pikesville. After graduating in 1956 from Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore as a 6-foot-4 forward for the varsity basketball team, he attended Lafayette in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he was a basketball and soccer player and averaged 15 points in the former sport.
After graduating from Lafayette in 1960, Mr. Boylan served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1963 and later earned a master’s degree in history from the Johns Hopkins University. He taught social studies and coached boys basketball at Lansdowne High School, where his teams amassed a 45-25 record from 1963 to 1968.
In 1969, Mr. Boylan joined head coach Tom Young’s staff at American in Washington, D.C., until 1973. When Mr. Young left to coach at Rutgers from 1973 to 1985, Mr. Boylan went with him, serving as associate head coach and later as assistant athletic director for academic support.
Mr. Boylan also handled commentary for the university’s basketball radio network on two occasions — from 1985 to 1991 and from 2016 to the present. He teamed with play-by-play announcer Jerry Recco the second time, which included witnessing the Scarlet Knights’ return to the NCAA tournament this season for the first time in 30 years.
“Joe was one of the nicest men I have ever met,” Mr. Recco said in a statement distributed by Rutgers. “It was an absolute honor to work with him for the last five years and to call him my friend. It’s heartbreaking. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Added head coach Steve Pikiell: “One of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He traveled with us for the last five years and was the voice of Rutgers basketball. He will be really missed. He was one of the greatest people that I’ve been around. He was a legend at Rutgers.”
Mr. Boylan returned to Baltimore in 1991 as Loyola’s athletic director. During his tenure, the school added women’s soccer, women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and men’s and women’s rowing as varsity sports. The university also unveiled the Ridley Athletic Complex, a lacrosse and soccer facility, on March 13, 2010, months before Mr. Boylan retired.
Donna M. Woodruff, who was hired in May 2017 as athletic director and assistant vice president, said Mr. Boylan personified the elements that make the institution special.
“He immediately welcomed me to the community that he so truly loved and had such an impact on influencing during his nearly 20 years as athletic director,” Mrs. Woodruff said. “I can only hope to honor Joe’s legacy by doing my job with the kindness, care and leadership that he had for his Loyola family.”
During Mr. Boylan’s time, the Greyhounds captured more than 65 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, and eight teams were invited to NCAA tournaments. He also hired three coaches who guided their basketball teams to the NCAA postseason: Patty CoyIe for the women in 1994 and 1995, Skip Prosser for the men in 1994 and Jimmy Patsos for the men in 2012.
“Joe hired very well,” Father Linnane said. “He really was very careful to attract coaches who were on board with our mission. He was a wonderful mentor to the coaches.”
“If you are lucky in life, you may cross paths with someone whom you consider a second father,” Mr. Toomey said. “Joe Boylan had a unique way of not only making you feel important, but imparting words of Irish wisdom upon you with every encounter. For over 30 years, ‘Mr. B.’ mentored me personally and professionally. I only hope to make him proud every day going forward.”
Mr. Boylan was a member of the Class of 2020 inducted into the Loyola Athletics’ Hall of Fame. His Irish roots were important to him, Greyhounds men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Brian Loeffler said.
“He shaped what our family-like athletic community has become, and student-athletes for years will benefit from his legacy,” Mr. Loeffler said. “Joe would always end any speech with an Irish blessing. Joe, ‘May the road rise up to meet you.’ ”
A small family memorial service is scheduled, while details about other services are pending.