O’Brien named new AD

Just over two months ago, Northeastern athletics was forced into a crossroads when former Director of Athletics Ian McCaw packed his bags and headed to UMass Amherst to become their new AD.

After a little more than a month of searching, the NU athletics department decided on Temple University Director of Athletics David O’Brien to run the ship at NU. He will start officially on October 7th.

“It was a great atmosphere,” said O’Brien of NU’s football game last Saturday at Parsons Field. “I was really impressed with the team and the support and I met a lot of nice people.”

O’Brien brings a very impressive resume to the table. O’Brien spent five years at Long Beach State and has spent the last six years at Temple University.

In the two places he’s stayed, he’s implemented what he feels to be a very important policy.

“I want to emphasize three main points at NU,” he said. “[Importance of school] in the classroom, community involvement and competitive excellence. I try to distinguish those and create those standards if we wish to succeed.”

In both places, O’Brien has helped the universities organize a way to create multi-purpose athletic facilities that are affordable and very impressive structures.

At Long Beach, O’Brien helped create “The Pyramid.” The multi-purpose facility houses both the basketball and volleyball teams and is 18 stories high.

“You can see it all the way from Los Angeles,” O’Brien said. “It’s really impressive.”

The $22 million purple pyramid houses 7,500 fans and averaged almost 2,500 fans a match for volleyball. The structure is held up by 18,000 steel tubes that, if laid end to end, would reach over 26 miles.

He also helped Temple build a 10,000 seat arena called “The Liacouras Center” which not only holds basketball games, but also concerts and convocations.

“We feel the Liacouras Center is one of the best, if not the best, basketball arena on the east coast,” said O’Brien, who has also aided the building process of a state of the art football practice facility that will be lighted, have natural grass and a 50 yard turf field for other sports to practice on. The facility was created in hopes of enhancing recruitment and helping the football program get off the ground.

As far as Northeastern goes, O’Brien has already been thinking of ways to improve NU’s athletics facilities.

After visiting Matthews Arena, O’Brien was excited.

“It’s a great arena,” O’Brien said. “It has so much charm. It’s definitely a great hockey arena but maybe we can make it a basketball arena too. When I first walked in, I immediately thought of the Liacouras Center.

“I look at this wonderful transformation from a commuter school and it’s exciting,” he continued. “It would be great to get a multi-use facility for recreational purposes to provide the university with concerts and convocations. But it’s always a process. You need to create a vision and then make sure everyone else agrees that it’s affordable. We would need to go out to all constituents and gain financial support.”

With O’Brien’s experience comes some interesting moments along the way. Aside from his good rapport with Temple basketball coach and legend John Chaney, whom O’Brien says is a “lovable, sweet, gregarious person,” O’Brien had the opportunity while at Long Beach State to hire NFL Hall of Fame coach George Allen as the head coach at the California University.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I had the opportunity to sign George Allen. We had several people on a conference call in trying to get a deal done with him. His son [the Governor of Virginia] was on one line, his other son [a sports agent] was on one line, his daughter who’s a journalism professor in Connecticut, his wife and his attorney. It was amazing.”

After sealing a deal to hire Allen, O’Brien said the team was amazed by how honest the NFL legend was and quickly took to his coaching ways. Allen passed away after only a year as head coach.

“Northeastern has an outstanding coaching staff,” O’Brien said. “The task for me will be to develop ways to build the university’s sports programs by helping create a budget.”

O’Brien’s excitement could be infectious, but he cautions that nothing will be done overnight, but things will get done.

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