“When John Toner spoke, people listened”

Sports notables across the nation continue to react to news that former UConn athletic director John Toner passed away Tuesday morning at his home in Georgia. Toner, 91, was football coach at UConn before being named athletic director. He hired Geno Auriemma, Jim Calhoun, led UConn into the Big East, and held several leadership roles in the NCAA, including a full term as president.

As statements and other reactions come in, we will attempt to pass them along.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco:

“John Toner was a visionary and pioneer whose impact on college athletics was enormous. He was a superb coach and administrator whose distinguished career at the University of Connecticut made him one of the most respected figures in college athletics. John will be remembered for his many contributions, among them his strong support for women’s sports, his important work with the NCAA, and his outstanding stewardship of UConn’s athletic programs. His warmth, intellect and character benefited generations of student-athletes. All of us are in his debt. We are saddened to learn of his passing, and he and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Former NFL quarterback and National Football Foundation Chairman Archie Manning:

“John Toner stood as a giant among athletic administrators, and the mere mention of his name meant integrity and respect. He brought immediate credibility to the efforts of the National Football Foundation, and he served on the NFF board with extreme passion and enormous impact. He put the scholar-athlete first, and his opinions and actions helped shape the NCAA and the college football landscape for decades. Today marks a very sad day for the NFF and all of college athletics. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

National Football Foundation President & CEO Steve Hatchell:

John Toner was a good friend and supporter long before I arrived at the National Football Foundation.  And that trust only grew as we served together on the NFF Board. His insights and guidance helped frame the direction of our organization during the past two decades, and he provided critical counsel on numerous occasions, especially as it related to NCAA matters. When John spoke people listened, and it is a fitting tribute that the ultimate award in college administration is given in his name each year. We extend our deepest condolences to his family. We share their loss, and we will work hard to carry on his legacy.”

Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education at Columbia in a statement on the school’s website:

“I was privileged to know John Toner as both a mentor and friend.  The world of collegiate athletics and Columbia Athletics has lost a wonderful advocate and giant in the business. John had an amazing and prestigious career at the University of Connecticut.  He was a beloved part of the Columbia Athletics Family and we were always so happy to have him with us at Homecoming and The Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame.  We will miss him.  I will miss him.”

Tweet from the NCAA:

We mourn the loss of former NCAA membership president, UConn AD John Toner.

Read Tuesday’s reaction from Auriemma and our exclusive interview with Calhoun here.

The National Football Foundation bestowed its “Distinguished American Award” on Toner. In 1997, the Foundation also honored Toner as the first recipient of the “John L. Toner Award” which is given annually in his name to an athletic director who has demonstrated superior administrative abilities, especially in the area of college football.

Tune in to “College Countdown with Ken Davis” on SMCRadio.com Thursday night between 8-9 p.m. ET to hear Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell share his memories of Toner and to discuss his legacy in college sports. To listen to the show live, head to the link here. The show is also replayed from 1-2 p.m. ET five days a week, archived at SMCRadio.com and on iTunes in the SMCRadio podcast destination.


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