Trailblazing Athletic Director Deborah Chin To Retire After Four Decades at New Haven

Trailblazing Athletic Director Deborah Chin To Retire After Four Decades at New Haven



WEST HAVEN, Conn. -  Deborah Chin, associate vice president and director of athletics and recreation at the University of New Haven, and an influential leader in intercollegiate athletics for more than four decades, has announced her retirement, effective February 15.

"I've made thousands of decisions over the course of my long career, but this one has been among the most challenging," said Chin, whose imprint on the intercollegiate athletics landscape is indelibly evident at the campus, conference, and national levels.

"I am a firm believer in passing the torch when the shop is in order, and I am confident that the culture of excellence we have established in athletics at the University of New Haven will thrive well into the future. I can't thank my University of New Haven colleagues enough for their contributions and support during this journey. I leave the program as proud as I was when I joined it more than 40 years ago."

Chin was a primary architect in building New Haven's 16-sport program into a national power within NCAA Division II. Under her leadership, University of New Haven teams made more than 70 NCAA postseason appearances and claimed dozens of New England Collegiate Conference and Northeast-10 Conference championships. Chin also championed excellence in the classroom, as her University of New Haven teams routinely ranked among national leaders in academic success.

The University of New Haven would not be a force in football without Chin's efforts in 2007 to reinstate the program as a varsity sport. After a five-year hiatus, the Charger football team returned to the gridiron in 2009 and has since won three conference championships and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.

"I am proud of the opportunities we have afforded our student-athletes in all of our sports," Chin said. "We have demanded excellence in all facets of the athletics experience - from competition to academics to community engagement - and our student-athletes have responded. They are who I will miss most. I am blessed to have been surrounded by so many ambitious, caring, and accomplished young people who have represented our program and our university so well for so long." 

Of Chin's retirement, Steven Kaplan, president of the University of New Haven since 2004, said: "Few athletic directors in this country have had as profound an impact on the reputation and success of an institution as Debbie Chin has here. She is recognized nationally as an exemplary advocate for intercollegiate athletics and has personally enhanced the lives of an immeasurable number of our students." 

Chin's contributions to the University of New Haven and to intercollegiate athletics in general began long before being named the school's fourth athletic director in 1993. She began her career at the university as coordinator of women's athletics in 1975 and was responsible for starting the women's intercollegiate athletics program, coaching volleyball, tennis, basketball, and softball in the early years. Chin eventually relinquished all head coaching responsibilities, except volleyball, when she was promoted to associate director of athletics in 1979. 

As head women's volleyball coach, Chin fashioned a Hall of Fame resume - literally - earning induction into the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Hall of Fame in December 2006. Chin is also a member of the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame (inducted October 1998), the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (April 1999), and the Athletics Hall of Fame at her alma mater, SUNY-Cortland. 

In a 19-year career (1975-93) as head coach for the volleyball team, she posted a 578-179 record (.764) and was at that time only the fifth Division II coach to win 500 career matches. The Chargers made 10 trips to the NCAA tournament during Chin's tenure, reaching the top five four times. Chin's teams posted twelve 30-win seasons, including six straight.

Chin is also recognized internationally as a top volleyball clinician, and she served as the volleyball commissioner for the 1995 Special Olympics World Games held in New Haven.

In addition to her legacy at New Haven, Chin established herself as a positive force at the regional and national levels, serving on more than 30 governance committees and championing opportunities for student-athletes, particularly women. Chin was a board member for the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) from 1993-96 and was named that organization's NCAA Division II Administrator of the Year in 2009. The National Association for Girls and Women in Sports also honored Chin with its Presidential Award in 1997.

In 2008, Chin chaired the prestigious NCAA Division II Management Council, the division's top policy-making body, and she served on the Division II Membership Committee, which helps establish standards for both aspiring and active Division II institutions. Chin's NCAA service also includes stints as chair of the Division II women's volleyball and Division II baseball committees.

"Division II wouldn't be the gem it is today without the many meaningful contributions from dedicated people like Debbie Chin," said Terri Steeb Gronau, NCAA vice president for Division II. "Debbie doesn't just serve on committees - she's an advocate for the student-athlete experience. She exhibits an infectious enthusiasm in that regard that rallies our governance structure toward the primary goal of ensuring a quality, balanced experience for our student-athletes."

Northeast-10 Conference Commissioner Julie Ruppert praised Chin for her efforts to raise the conference's stature among the elite both athletically and academically in NCAA Division II.

"With the NE10's recent 'Embrace' brand enhancement, who was at the forefront to advance the campaign? Debbie Chin. The NE10 has always been able to count on Debbie to help fortify our position in the prestigious Northeast region and to make a positive influence on the lives of our student-athletes both during and after their college athletics careers," Ruppert said. 

Chin, who earned a baccalaureate in physical education from State University College at Cortland and a master's degree in physical education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has been honored by several organizations for her leadership contributions, including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the U.S. Volleyball Association, and the Connecticut Sportswriters' Alliance. In 2010, Chin was named an Elm City Legend, which recognizes the greater New Haven region's best in sports and community dedication.

While Chin is retiring from athletics administration, she is not finished advocating on behalf of collegiate student-athletes.

"I'm calling this a long-overdue vacation," Chin said. "But I'll still be in the game. I will continue working to support NCAA Division II strategic positioning initiatives, enhancing the student-athlete experience, and providing leadership opportunities for Division II coaches and administrators."

Information for this release provided by the New Haven athletic communications staff

The NE10 is an association of 15 NCAA Division II colleges and universities located in New England and New York that is committed to supporting balanced academic and athletic opportunities for more than 6,500 student-athletes. 

Each year, 4,500 of those student-athletes compete in conference championships in 24 sports, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.