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Historical Note

Scope and Content Note


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Title:Dept. of Athletics records
Call Number:A17

Historical Note

In 1921 the Department of Student Activities was established, with divisions of Publications, Athletics, and Miscellaneous Activities.  In 1924, Athletics was established on a University basis with 6 sports, with requirements for eligibility, letter awards, and other phases of intercollegiate competition.  From 1929-1953, Edward Parsons was Director of Student Activities, with the later title of Director of Health, Physical Training, and Student Activities.  In 1953, Herbert Gallagher was named Director of Health, Physical Training, and Student Activities.  From 1960-1962, the Student Activities, Physical Education, and Health components were all separated from the Department of Athletics and in 1960, Herbert Gallagher was named Director of Health and Athletics and Charles Kitchin was named Director of Student Activities.  Herbert Gallagher retired in 1977.

Herbert Gallagher attended Northeastern University from 1930 until 1935, earning nine varsity letters in three sports.  He was coach of the Austrian national hockey team in the 1936 Olympic Games in Garmisch, Germany.  He returned to Northeastern in 1937 to become a professor of physical education, coach of the varsity hockey and freshman baseball teams, and backfield coach of the football squad. In addition, Gallagher served as secretary-treasurer of the New England Athletic Conference, and was at various times president of the New England Athletic Conference, the Greater Boston Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges, the Intercollegiate Ice Hockey Association, and the American Hockey Coaches Association.  He also chaired the National Collegiate Athletic Association Ice Hockey Rules Committee and the United States Olympic Hockey Committee.  (Source: box 2, folders 80-81)

Irwin Cohen also attended Northeastern University and graduated in 1961 only to return as an assistant coach in 1962. In 1966 Cohen took over as head coach for Cross Country and Track and Field where the track team rose to new heights in championships. Cohen was award New England Track Coach of the Year in 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1977 and was president of various track and field associations such as Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America Coaches Association and the New England Track and Field Association. Irwin Cohen would later become the Athletic Director for Northeastern University (1983-1993).

Established in 1974, the Varsity Club Hall of Fame recognizes Northeastern University's most impactful and outstanding student-athletes, coaches, and benefactors. Each year, individuals are selected for enshrinement based upon the following primary criteria: performance as a Northeastern student-athlete, character, athletic accomplishment beyond the University, and social impact.

As of 2015, the Department of Athletics is home to 18 NCAA Division I sports, 43 club sports, and 32 intramural sports. The majority of Division I teams compete in the Colonial Athletic Association, with the exceptions being men's and women's hockey (Hockey East), and men's and women's rowing (Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges/Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges).

1903First World Series played at Huntington Avenue American League Baseball Grounds
1921Department of Student Activities with divisions of Publications, Athletics and Miscellaneous Activities established
1924Athletics established on a University basis with 6 sports, with requirements for eligibility, letter awards, and other phases of intercollegiate competition
1927King Husky I becomes first mascot
1929First year of hockey as a varsity sport
1933First year of football as a varsity sport
1951First year of ROTC
1958Bronze statue of King Husky I takes place of living dogs as mascots
1961Physical Education component separated from Department of Health and Athletics
1962Health component separated from Department of Athletics
1964-1965Crew started as varsity sport, G. Ernest Arlett named 1st coach.  Team competes in Henley
1966Baseball team in College World Series
1968-1969Minor sports are organized for both men and women. First women's basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse varsity teams
1969Barletta Natatorium dedication and Parson's Field dedicated in the name of former athlete, coach and athletics director Edward S. Parsons
1974The Varsity Club Hall of Fame is established
1978Sports Publicity moved from Athletics Department to Public Affairs
1979Northeastern purchases Boston Arena from the state of Massachusetts, arena designated the George and Hope Mathews Arena in 1982
1984Center for Study of Sport in Society established 
1986Dedham Campus Track is completed
1989Henderson Boathouse completed, selected as “the best boathouse in the United States” by American Rowing in 1990
1991Jeanne Rowlands, Director of Women's Athletics retires, Men's and Women's athletics departments merged months later, Northeastern admitted to Yankee Football Conference
1993The Red Sox and the Yawkey Foundation gives Northeastern a statue of Cy Young, which is placed outside Churchill Hall at the site of the first World Series in 1903
2000-2004The women's swimming and diving team won five straight America East championships
2002Huskies Football team advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the first time
2005Northeastern joins the Colonial Athletic Association.
2009Football team plays its final season.
2012Athletics Director Peter Roby appointed to the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee.
2015Women's Rowing, Men's Basketball, Men's Track and Field win conference championships.
Chronology of Directors
1921-1926Joseph Spear, Director of Student Activities
1926-1929Harold Melvin, Director of Student Activities
1929-1953Edward Parsons, Director of Student Activities, later title of Director of Health, Physical Training and Student Activities
1953-1977Herbert Gallagher named Director of Health, Physical Education and Student Activities, later changed to Director of Health and Athletics
1977-1983Joseph Zabilski, Director of Athletics
1983-1993Irwin Cohen, Director of Athletics
1980-1991Jeanne Rowlands, Director of Women's Athletics
1993-1997Barry Gallup, Director of Athletics and Head Football Coach.
1997-2002Ian McCaw, Director of Athletics
2002-2007Dave O'Brien, Director of Athletics
2007-PresentPeter Roby, Director of Athletics

Marston, Everett C. Origin and Development of Northeastern 1898-1960. Boston : Northeastern University Press, c.1961. CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22M3

Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University: An Emerging Giant: 1959-1975. Boston : Northeastern University Custom Book Program, c.1982. CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22F7X

Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University, Coming of Age: The Ryder Years, 1975-1989. Boston : Northeastern University, c. 1995. CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22F732

Feldscher, Karen. Northeastern University, 1989-1996: The Curry Years, Smaller but Better. Boston: Northeastern University, c. 2000. CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22 F45 2000

Northeastern Athletics, “Northeastern History and Championships”, Accessed July 9, 2015.

Northeastern University. “Northeastern Hall of Fame: Irwin M. Cohen,” Northeastern University,

Northeastern University Athletics Official Web Site. Northeastern University,