The Hobart College Alumni Association announced that Michael J. Hanna ’68, P’99, HON’04 will receive the Hobart Medal of Excellence during an on campus ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9. Hanna retired in December after spending 37 years as the director of athletics at his alma mater.
The Medal of Excellence is the Hobart College Alumni Association’s highest honor. It is awarded to an alumnus who, by reason of outstanding accomplishments in his particular business, profession or community service, has brought honor and distinction to his alma mater.
The longest serving athletic director in Hobart history, Hanna made a considerable and lasting impact on the lives of generations of Statesmen. His leadership impacted all aspects of Hobart Athletics, raising Statesmen performance levels in the athletic arena, in the classroom and in the community.
Academically, Hobart scholar-athletes are performing at the highest level. During the 2016-17 academic year, the average Hobart athlete had a 3.03 grade point average with eight of the school’s 11 sports boasting a team 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.
To enhance the leadership skills of Statesmen, on and off the field, Hanna started the Napier Leadership Seminar. The program honors the late William J. Napier ’57 and is supported by the generosity of the Napier family. Established in 1996, Hobart Athletics hosts seminars for students and coaches 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 (a 2008 recipient of the Hobart Medal of Excellence), former U.S. 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. From 1995 to 2017, the Statesmen captured 50 conference championships, including 12 consecutive in rowing. Hobart athletes have earned hundreds of all-conference awards and dozens of All-America honors.
Hanna’s leadership 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, Bozzuto Boathouse, H. J. McCooey Memorial Field, John H. Cozzens Jr. Memorial Field, 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 exhibited steady growth through the years in terms of the number of donors and the number of gifts, repeatedly setting records for membership and donations.
Hanna is a past president of the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association and the Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. He served as the chair of the USILA Scholar All-American committee and MLCA clinic and convention committee. Hanna was the recipient of the 1985 USILA Frenchy Julian Memorial Award for outstanding service to intercollegiate lacrosse.
In a career that spanned parts of five decades, Hanna dedicated his professional life to serving collegiate athletes. He began his coaching career as an assistant football and lacrosse assistant at Johns Hopkins in 1971-72. Hanna spent the next four seasons as an assistant lacrosse coach at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was named the head lacrosse coach at Princeton in 1976. In his final season with the Tigers, Hanna’s squad posted an 8-5 record and was ranked 15th in the nation. He became Hobart’s Director of Athletics in 1981 and retired in December 2017.
A native of Corry, Pa., Hanna first came to Hobart as a student in the fall of 1964. By the time he graduated with a degree in economics in 1968, he had established himself as one of the top athletes in the College’s history. The recipient of the 1968 Francis L. “Babe” Kraus ’34 Award as Hobart’s top senior athlete, Hanna was a record-breaking quarterback on the gridiron and an All-America attackman in lacrosse. He co-captained both teams during his senior year.
Hanna was the lone inductee in the Hobart Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 1996.
Following graduation, Hanna served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and officer in military intelligence. His time in the Army included a tour of duty in Vietnam.