In a bit of stunning news this afternoon, it was announced by Northeast Conference commissioner Noreen Morris on her Twitter account that long-time LIU Brooklyn Athletic Director John Suarez is leaving his position at the university.
Morris tweeted out the following early Wednesday afternoon:
Suarez has been the Athletic Director at LIU Brooklyn since 1997 and just wrapped up his 17th season at the school. LIU Brooklyn Athletics has seen an incredible amount of growth during his tenure.
In terms of basketball, he was the key figure in getting LIU out of Schwartz Athletic Center better known to many people as the converted Brooklyn Paramount Theater although great to watch games, it was quite dated and lack the appeal current student-athletes look for in facilities, to the new $45 million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center now known as the Steinberg Wellness Center on Ashland Place back in 2006. He helped renovate LIU Field for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse by adding new turf and new scoreboards.
He also helped spearhead a five-year partnership with the new neighboring Barclays Center down the street from LIU Brooklyn allowing LIU teams to play four games there each season.
Suarez hired three men’s head basketball coaches during his tenure, Ray Martin, Jim Ferry and current head coach Jack Perri. He hired four women’s head basketball coaches in Patty Delehanty, Tony Bozzella, Stephanie Gaitley, and current head coach Gail Striegler.
He saw the LIU men’s basketball team finally break through in 2011 to win their first of an unprecedented three straight NEC championships. He also saw the LIU women’s basketball team win their only NEC tournament championship back in 2001.
Suarez tenure was also not without some difficulties. In his first year as AD in 1997, he had to deal with the fallout of LIU’s 117-point blowout win over Division III Brooklyn school Medgar Evers, which still stands in the NCAA record book for biggest margin of victory and after the season the resignation of head coach Ray Haskins. Presently, he has been dealing with community backlash over LIU’s proposal to extend LIU Field to make it NCAA regulation size so they can have the possibility of hosting future soccer NEC championships which they can’t currently host.
Overall, Suarez tenure at LIU has been remarkable on the court and on the field. According to his bio on LIU Brooklyn Athletics website, he oversaw LIU win 34 NEC titles in all their sports in the last ten years including 12 championships in the last three seasons.
LIU Brooklyn has yet to make an official announcement so it is not quite sure if Suarez is planning on retiring or is planning on moving on to another position elsewhere.
A couple of internal candidates that I can see that can get the promotion up to Athletic Director if they want it are two long-time staffers in the LIU Brooklyn Athletic Department. One is Margaret Alaimo who is currently LIU’s Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator. The other is Greg Fox who is currently LIU’s Associate Director of Athletics/External Relations.
As for myself, I would like to thank John Suarez for his support in Blackbirds Hoops Journal over the last two-plus years. He was always very cordial with me and BHJ photographer Bob Dea whenever we saw him at home or on the road. He even joked with me last season seeing the LIU men’s basketball team going through all their injury woes and asked me if I still had any eligibility left.
I wish him well in whatever his future holds for him. LIU Brooklyn will definitely miss him.