While the Big East Conference is no longer the college athletics powerhouse that it was in the 1980s and 1990s, it might not have existed in the first place if not for the efforts of John “Jake” Crouthamel. The former Syracuse athletic director, who held that role from 1977 to 2005, died Monday at 84 years old, per Dartmouth Athletics.
Dartmouth, where Crouthamel graduated in 1960, announced the news.
The Dartmouth Athletics community mourns the loss of All-American Jake Crouthamel ’60, who won 8 @IvyLeague titles as a player, assistant coach and head coach with @DartmouthFTBL. https://t.co/p3o1aDKOCk
— Dartmouth Athletics (@dartmouthsports) November 7, 2022
Following a very brief pro football career that included stops with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and AFL’s Boston Patriots, Crouthamel would embark on a coaching career at Dartmouth, becoming head coach in 1971 and leading the Big Green to three Ivy League championships.
In 1977, he became the athletic director for Syracuse University and was a critical voice in the creation of the Big East Conference in 1979. He also oversaw an athletics program that garnered a national title in men’s basketball, nine national titles in men’s lacrosse, 14 football bowl appearances, and 22 overall Big East Conference championships in 27 years.
Crouthamel was also a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee and was on every Big East television negotiating committee during his tenure.
For better or worse, Crouthamel played a big role in Penn State not joining the Big East in the 1980s, a move that could have potentially changed the entire trajectory of the conference as a football power.
As news broke of Crouthmael’s passing, plenty of people from the Syracuse, Dartmouth, and college athletics communities chimed in to share their condolences and memories.
— Matt Park (@MattPark1) November 7, 2022
RIP Jake Crouthamel. Guided Syracuse Athletics through a lot of years including 9 Lacrosse Titles and the 2003 Basketball Championship. Also integral in the creation of The Big East. Enjoy that lung dart in Heaven's airlock. You've earned it. https://t.co/4yWaGRf5mV
— Brian Harrison (@BH_Orange44) November 7, 2022
Condolences to the family of the former Syracuse AD https://t.co/MKloeCnPlV
— NunesMagician.com (@NunesMagician) November 7, 2022
Longtime Syracuse AD. Spent nearly three decades leading the school's athletic department through a fascinating period as college sports went from something close to an extra-curricular activity to the big business it is today. https://t.co/MmJI0gjI7e
— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) November 7, 2022
Sad news to share. Former @Cuse AD Jake Crouthamel has passed away at the age of 84. Crouthamel was instrumental in the formation of the Big East Conference and was AD when the Carrier Dome was constructed in 1979. He served as AD at SU from 1977-2005. https://t.co/nMVwRmbB4t
— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) November 7, 2022
RIP Jake Crouthamel. Hope we do a moment of silence for him on Saturday.
— John Brennan (@jbren) November 7, 2022