Center for Excellence Honoree: Tracey FlynnLack of athleticism didn't stop Tracey Flynn from a career in sports. Her passion for sports turned her into an NCAA rules guru with a big heart for the challenges student-athletes face while pursuing their college education and trying to achieve their goals in sports.
Flynn, a recipient of the Excellence in Service to Students Award, is associate director of athletics for student services and compliance, and senior woman administrator, a position the NCAA, which governs college sports, requires to assure the interests of female student-athletes are represented at all levels of decision making. Flynn coordinates Quinnipiac's efforts to prevent NCAA rule violations and manages logistics to certify student-athletes for NCAA eligibility. That means lots of paperwork and sometimes working nonstop until minutes before a game. Clearing student-athletes delivers satisfaction but not for long.
"There's not a lot of time to bask in the success when there are other students who also are waiting for help." Flynn said.
She is the hub among more than 400 student-athletes, University offices and the NCAA. She interacts with students-athletes from recruitment to graduation and is adviser to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee to help coordinate community service projects. "She provides guidance, advice and structure for many of their efforts while allowing students to inject their own ideas into each project," wrote Linda Wooster, associate director of athletics recreation, in the form to nominate Flynn for the award.
Coaches and student-athletes admire Flynn for more than mastering complex NCAA code. "There is a constant flow of students into her office from morning to late at night seven days a week," Wooster said. "She is concerned, caring and incredibly creative in finding ways to provide all students the best possible experience at Quinnipiac."
A native of Durham, Conn., Flynn earned a bachelor's degree in communications in 1983 and a master's degree in sports management in 1985, both from the University of Connecticut.
"I've said throughout my life that I can't play my way out of a paper bag, but I love sports," Flynn said.
She found ways to be in the huddle. She was a baseball and basketball statistician for her high school teams and her inquiries at the University of Connecticut lead her to becoming team manager for women's basketball and field hockey. She was manager for the 1981 women's field hockey team, which won the first ever NCAA Division I women's national championship.
Flynn joined the University of Connecticut athletics development staff after graduation. Two years later she became assistant athletic director at Fairfield University. During 10 years there she launched Fairfield's NCAA compliance program.
She earned a master's degree in business administration from Fairfield in 1997 and that same year joined the University of Maine as assistant athletics director and senior woman administrator to guide its NCAA compliance program. Her work included an administrative role with the men's ice hockey team, which won the 1999 NCAA Division I national championship. She joined Quinnipiac in 2001.
"My career path has paralleled the growth in NCAA rules compliance expectations on the national level, so keeping abreast of new rules at this stage is incremental," Flynn said. "My biggest challenge is managing competing priorities. Student-athletes, coaches and university personnel often need things at the same time. However, I'm fortunate that my ethical standards and commitment to integrity found a place in the world of rules compliance and here at Quinnipiac."
Graduate student Gabrielle Pasternak '07, who played tennis at Quinnipiac, and head women's soccer coach Dave Clarke also nominated Flynn.
"Her hours extend beyond 9 to 5, and she will do all she can to help student-athletes when it's not always in her job description to do so," Clarke wrote in his nomination form. "She puts the welfare of student-athlete before her job description."
Clarke and Wooster noted that Flynn goes out of her way to help foreign students transition to life in the U.S. One player is junior Fabricio Silva, who came to the U.S. from Brazil to play on the men's soccer team. "Every time I need something, she is always trying to help," Silva wrote in the form to nominate Flynn for the award. "She does everything she is able to, and when she is not, she will give you directions to find solutions."