Q&A: Jim Madigan hopes to maintain academic, athletic excellence as Athletic Director

Athletic director Jim Madigan in Matthews Arena.

Matthew Modoono

Athletic director Jim Madigan in Matthews Arena.

Peyton Doyle and Vitoria Poejo

Jim Madigan has been involved with Northeastern University for 40 years, first as a player for the men’s ice hockey team in the early 1980s, then later serving as an assistant coach, academic administrator and head coach of the men’s hockey team. 

 

After 352 games and two conference championships, Madigan left his head coaching position in June to become NU’s new athletic director. In a conversation with The News on Sep. 14, Madigan laid out his vision for NU.

 

This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

 

Huntington News: What are your goals as athletic director?

Jim Madigan: We, first off, want to help athletes achieve their academic, athletic and social goals here at the university. That’s no different than when I was head coach and making sure that we’re providing work and resources for [student-athletes] to be successful in those areas. I think that’s the goal for myself, for the department and for our coaches who interact and work with our student-athletes each and every day. I want us to have success in every component and every program. Success is measured, not just by winning championships — certainly, that’s the ultimate. But I want us to, as a department, get better each and every day. I want us to achieve excellence in every part of the organization and build a culture of respect, trust and caring that will permeate all the way down to the organization, to the student-athletes and providers. Athletes and our coaches are key resources for being competitive and winning in sports. We invest a lot of time, money and effort into our teams’ successes. We want to win, and we want to do it the right way. For me, I’ve been involved with Northeastern University for 40 years; we’ve been doing it the right way for 40 years. We’re going to continue to do it the right way, and we’ll do it the right way if we’re going to achieve our competitive excellence. That’s the goal.

 

HN: Do you think coaches and players are excited to have a more normal season this year with a more traditional schedule?

JM: I think everyone involved with athletics, whether it be at the professional level, collegiate level or high school, everyone is excited to return to a normal environment — that normal environment that we were used to pre-COVID-19. There are obviously still some limitations because COVID is still around and we’ve got to make sure we still provide for the health and safety of our student-athletes and staff. But we are excited to return back to more normalcy, your traditional playing season with traditional travel, everything that goes with it in practice schedules and everything else. You can see it in the students’ eyes. You can see it in the general university population that they’re excited to be on campus. They’re excited to be back in the classroom, participating in activities, engaging in any area of the university that they can. And that’s it. It’s vibrant, there’s a lot of vibrancy and excitement around campus right now, and that carries over towards student-athletes.

 

HN: Have you made it to any games yet? What’s it like to have fans like back in the stands?

JM: It has been tremendous. Last Tuesday, the volleyball game in Cabot was packed for the most part, with students there and student-athletes of other teams. The supporters were there so it was just a doozy, an exciting atmosphere in the building, and we played Boston College, so you’re playing your opponent that’s close by and they have brought some fans over. It was a great, great venue and that’s what college athletics is all about, excitement, enthusiasm and a great energy level from our student-athletes and fans who attended to cheer on the players.

 

HN: Will there be a reduced capacity at Matthews Arena for hockey and basketball games?

JM: Right now, we’re planning on opening up without any limitations. People will need to be masked coming into the buildings as per our university’s policy about being indoors. We’ll continue to follow the data and follow the science to see where we’re at and rely on health experts here on campus that will determine if we have to make some changes.

 

HN: Will there be a vaccine requirement for fans that aren’t from Northeastern?

JM: We’re still going through some of those protocols right now. We are still a few weeks away from getting to that point, but there have been ongoing conversations.

 

HN: How have season tickets been selling? 

JM: They actually have been very well. I saw a tremendous amount sold right off the bat and a tremendous response in total sales. The tickets department is happy with all four programs and where they’re at right now, so we’re excited about that. Our students don’t need to sign up for season tickets because they’ll get a ticket with their relationship to the university. With so many students on campus, we expect to get a great turnout for our games. It’s not just the ticketed sports events either, there’s excitement around our other programs and students wanting to show support.

 

HN: What have you heard from the city about the Beanpot?

JM: We’re still very much early in that process. The Beanpot is from Feb. 7 to 14 this year, but we’ve had meetings and we fully expect to return back to a traditional Beanpot experience as we did up until 2020. The Bruins are planning on opening [TD Garden] without any limitations in terms of capacity, so our expectation is the same, but of course, we’ll keep an eye on the data.