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Don DiJulia steps away as athletics director after working 50 years in college sports

Don DiJulia was inducted into the Saint Joseph’s Hall of Fame in March in a surprise ceremony. Saint Joseph’s University Photo

When Don DiJulia graduated from Saint Joseph’s with a degree in political science, his goal was to become a high school teacher and coach.

Those plans never fully materialized. But when the 2017-18 school year ends, DiJulia will retire after a 50-year career working in intercollegiate athletics — including 35 in his native Philadelphia in two different stints as the director of athletics at his alma mater.

“I try not to focus on the past because I’m still here,” says DiJulia, who played basketball and baseball at Saint Joseph’s. “But I would have never believed it if you had told me I would work this long in college sports.”

DiJulia, 75, began his journey after college graduation as the freshman baseball coach at Saint Joseph’s in 1968. He was a high school teacher at the time.

In the summer of 1968, a former college basketball teammate, Jim Lynam, who went on to become a distinguished college and NBA coach, asked DiJulia to be his assistant coach for the Fairfield men’s basketball team. DiJulia has been on college campuses ever since.

After serving as an assistant at George Washington and American, DiJulia became athletics director at Saint Joseph’s in 1976. He left to be the commissioner of the East Coast Conference in 1981 and served in the same role in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference from 1984 to 1988. When the Saint Joseph’s athletics director position opened again, DiJulia decided to return for good. He said his passion for the job never wanes.

“We try to create an environment and culture for our student-athletes to learn and grow,” he says. “When you see that happen, that inspires everyone to keep going. The student-athletes don’t necessarily understand how they motivate the people who work in college athletics.”

DiJulia doesn’t have specific plans for retirement, but the lifelong Phillies fan is considering one option: being an usher at Citizens Bank Park.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.