After 37 years at the helm of Hobart Athletics, Director of Athletics Mike Hanna ’68 has announced that he will retire from his current position at the end of the Fall 2017 semester. He will remain at Hobart and William Smith Colleges through the academic year as a special assistant to President Gregory J. Vincent ’83.
“This is both a comfortable and a difficult decision,” Hanna says. “Comfortable because I am confident that President Vincent and the HWS leadership team will be strong stewards of Statesmen sports. Difficult because I would love to work with Greg Vincent and I will miss our student-athletes, our staff, my boss Vice President for Campus Life Robb Flowers, and especially our head coaches.”
Hanna began his tenure as Hobart director of athletics on July 1, 1981. His remarkable career spans 47 years in college athletics, including the last 37 at his alma mater. He’s also the longest serving athletic director in the history of Hobart Athletics.
“In the long and eventful history of our athletics programs, I can say without fear of contradiction that no one has done more to shape Hobart Athletics than Mike Hanna,” says Vincent. “I have had the pleasure of knowing him since I was a student-athlete and have observed firsthand the kind of integrity and commitment that he brings to everything he does. He will be deeply missed but I am comforted by the fact that he has built such a strong foundation for the future.”
Hanna has guided Hobart Athletics through its most successful era from the lacrosse program’s unprecedented championships to today’s department-wide success. Today’s Statesmen excel in the classroom, compiling a collective grade point average of 3.03 last year. In fact, eight of Hobart’s 11 teams had a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Seventeen of the College’s 18 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans® were in the Hanna era, including 2013-14 Division III Men’s Basketball Academic All-America of the Year Richie Bonney ’14.
Board Chair Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68 praised his classmate’s leadership. “Mike has given his professional career to the Statesmen, creating an environment of integrity and an expectation of excellence that is unmatched,” he says. “Through his leadership, he has positively influenced the lives of thousands of students, instilling the character and fortitude that has defined generations of Hobart men. He defines what it means to be a ‘Statesman.’ I thank him most sincerely for his service to the Colleges.”
In an effort to enhance Hobart student-athletes’ leadership skills both on and off the field, Hanna started the Napier Leadership Seminar. Now in its 22nd year, Statesmen meet throughout the year to discuss leadership issues and to learn from featured speakers such as retired University of Florida Director of Athletics Jeremy Foley ’74, former Navy fighter pilot and P.O.W. Charlie Plumb and former NFL quarterback Don McPherson.
In competition, Hobart teams have won 13 national championships during Hanna’s tenure, 11 in lacrosse and two in sailing. Since 1995, Statesmen have captured 49 conference championships, including 12 consecutive in rowing. Hobart student-athletes have earned hundreds of all-conference awards and dozens of All-America honors.
“This marks my 47th year in college athletics, 37 of them at Hobart,” Hanna says. “I’m grateful for every one of those years and from every angle it just feels like the right time for me and for Hobart Athletics. From the citizenship of our teams to our athletic facilities, from the Statesmen Athletic Association’s strength to our excellent head coaches and from the competitive success of our teams to the scholarship of our student-athletes, Hobart Athletics is well positioned for the future.”
Hanna’s leadership has also had a significant impact on the campus map. With his counterpart in William Smith Athletics, he oversaw a wide-range of facility enhancements, including the construction of the Robert A. Bristol ’31 Field House, the Smith Squash Center, H. J. McCooey Memorial Field, John H. Cozzens Jr. Memorial Field, the Hockey Varsity House, the RFK Varsity Strength Training Center, the Dottie Martin Athletic Director’s Suite, and the Caird Center for Sports and Recreation, as well as the renovation of several team rooms and the basketball arena.
Hanna’s stewardship of the Statesmen Athletic Association (SAA) has repeatedly set records for total membership and member donations. The SAA has exhibited steady growth through the years in terms of the number of donors and the number of gifts.
“It has been my honor to work with and learn from Mike Hanna during the past decade,” says Vice President for Campus Life Robb Flowers. “It is his character, dignity and passion that have left an enduring mark on the hundreds of coaches and student-athletes with whom he has worked, and that legacy will forever be a part of Hobart Athletics.”
Hanna earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Hobart and was a standout two-sport athlete. As a quarterback, Hanna broke all of Hobart’s season and career passing records. As an attackman, he earned second team All-America honors following his senior season. Hanna co-captained both the football and lacrosse teams and earned the Francis L. “Babe” Kraus Award as Hobart’s Athlete of the Year in 1968.
Following his graduation, Hanna served three years in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant in military intelligence, including a tour as a military adviser in South Vietnam. He began his career in college athletics in 1971 as an assistant football and lacrosse coach at Johns Hopkins. After a year in Baltimore, Hanna became an assistant lacrosse coach at Navy, coaching Midshipmen for four seasons. In 1976, he was named the head lacrosse coach at Princeton.
An active member of the community, Hanna has served in a variety of civic positions with groups like the Geneva Rotary Club, Lakeview Mental Health Services and Ontario ARC.
Hanna lives in Geneva with his wife, Mary Anne. They have three children and five grandchildren.