October 7, 2011

Former Director of Athletics Nick Rodis, dead at 87

WALTHAM, Mass. – Former Brandeis University Director of Athletics Nick Rodis, whose 17-year tenure included the introduction of seven new women’s sports and the only two team national championships in school history, died early this morning, October 7, at Newton-Wellesley Hospital at the age of 87.

Rodis, who led the Department of Athletics from 1967 to 1984, was inducted in the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. Brandeis won its only two NCAA Division III national championships during his tenure: the 1976 men's soccer crown and the 1983 men's cross country title. Brandeis teams also made 27 other trips to the NCAA tournament in that span, reaping numerous All-Region and All-America honors. In addition, Rodis helped introduce seven women's intercollegiate sports in his tenure.

Rodis hired Brandeis Hall of Fame coaches Bob Brannum (basketball) and Tom O'Connell (baseball), as well as current Judge coaches Mike Coven (men’s soccer), Denise Dallamora (women’s soccer), Bill Shipman (fencing) and Pete Varney (baseball), plus assistant director of athletics Jim Zotz. After leaving his post as director of athletics, Rodis was also instrumental in fundraising for the construction of the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. In 2010, he was presented with the Eastern College Athletic Conference's James Lynah Distinguished Service Award.

A member of the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors Association Hall of Fame, Rodis graduated in 1949 from Harvard University, where he earned All-America honorable mention honors in baseball and football.  He went on to coach at American International College and the University of Connecticut. In 2007, the Needham Times said that Rodis was "arguably, outside of Harry Agganis, the greatest Greek-American athlete ever to grow up in New England".

Rodis was the first American to serve as vice president of the International University Sports Federation and served as the president of the United States Collegiate Sports Council. Rodis joined Brandeis in 1967 after a five-year stint as a special assistant for athletic programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the State Department under John F. Kennedy.

"Nick Rodis was an old-school guy who was devoted to Brandeis," said Bill Shipman, Brandeis's head fencing coach since 1980. "He worked hard to promote winning teams. He worked here during some turbulent times, financially and politically, but he was able to steer some of the most successful programs in school history in the baseball, cross-country and men's soccer teams of the 1970s and '80s."

The wake for Rodis will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10, at Doherty Funeral Home in Wellesley, Mass. His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, atSaint Demitirious Greek Church in Weston, Mass.