Jake Crouthamel

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.

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.

[Dartmouth Athletics, image via Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.