The end of an era for promising AD


When Marianne Reilly was first named athletic director at Manhattan College in March 2016, she was honored as the first woman to achieve that distinction.

Now more than seven years later, she leaves under a cloud of humility as her athletics department faces penalties for violating the sanctity of the NCAA’s academic and amateur eligibility and recruitment standards. While the announcement of her resignation came four days before the violations were released to the public, the timing is impeccable.

According to a source, Reilly’s contract was up at the end of this academic year and instead of not renewing it for the athletics department’s lack of NCAA compliance, they allowed her to resign.

Reilly is said to have been in charge of compliance ever since William Aloia left Manhattan in February 2020. Aloia had been the assistant athletic director for NCAA compliance and life skills at the college up to that point since 2017.

Reilly could not be reached for comment.

But Brother Daniel Gardner, Manhattan College president, had nothing but kind words for Reilly through her tenure at the school.

“On behalf of the Manhattan College community, I want to thank Marianne for her selfless service to our institution and to our students,” Gardner said. “Marianne is one of us and led us through a transformative period for the college and for intercollegiate athletics in general.

“Her contributions as a student-athlete and administrator will live forever in our history. We wish Marianne and Tom (Delaney) the very best and look forward to them continuing to play an important role in our college community.”

At the time of her resignation announcement, Reilly was grateful to have worked for such a prestigious institution.

“It has been an honor to serve my alma mater, our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and supporters,” she said. “After seven years at the helm, it is time for a new voice to lead the department into the future and time for me to embark on the next phase of my professional and personal journey.

“I am proud of what we were able to accomplish together and I will continue to cheer on the Jaspers in the years ahead. I am grateful to my colleagues, our talented staff, and most of all, the young men and women who proudly wear the green and white.”

Her achievements at Manhattan College include opening the Gaelic Park Athletic Center with state-of-the-art training facilities and locker rooms and significant enhancements to the Draddy Gym. Under her leadership, student-athletes achieved 98 All-MAAC honors and 29 academic awards. During the 2021-2022 season, the Jaspers had 229 students named to the MAAC academic honor roll.

Reilly is the first woman inducted into the Manhattan College Athletics Hall of Fame as well as an inductee into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honor roll at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The lowlights

Other than the recent NCAA violations, Reilly tried and failed to bring Manhattan College baseball permanently back to Van Cortlandt Park, but a lack of administration oversight and creativity prevented the return in 2021 from going anywhere. The field did not meet NCAA standards and by 2022, the Jaspers were back in the suburbs, playing home games at Clover Stadium in Pomona.

Interim AD hired

Irma Garcia, who last worked as the athletic director for St. Francis College in Brooklyn, was chosen last week to replace Reilly on an interim basis, according to Gardner. Garcia has already started her new job.

Garcia joins Manhattan College after serving as the assistant vice president and director of athletics at St. Francis College (Brooklyn) since 2007, during which she led the Terriers to record-setting Northeast Conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. She is widely recognized as the first Latina to ever lead a NCAA Division I athletics program.

Under Garcia’s leadership, the St. Francis Department of Athletics expanded administrative and coaching staffs to support the continuing needs of student-athletes and added both women’s soccer and men’s volleyball. The Terrier men’s soccer team captured five Northeast Conference championship titles from 2013-2020 and the men’s and women’s water polo teams have consistently been nationally ranked.

While Garcia was there, the athletics department continually exceeded fundraising goals through individual and capital campaigns, which led to various facility upgrades, a state-of-the-art student-athlete fueling station and increased support for student-athlete health and wellness. Most recently, Garcia secured 17 facility partnerships across all of the New York City boroughs to ensure St. Francis student-athletes had the proper spaces to train, compete and thrive during the college’s relocation.

Garcia served as the head women’s basketball coach for 11 seasons at St. Francis, honored as the 1998 NEC Coach of the Year. She received the 2015-16 Division 1-AAA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award and was named NACWAA D1 Administrator of the Year for the 2014–15 academic year.

Already a pioneer for women’s athletics on many fronts, Garcia became the first former women’s player/coach to ever be inducted into the Basketball Old-Timers of America Hall of Fame and was also honored with the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Distinguished Service Award.

— Gary Larkin

Manhattan College, Jaspers, Marianne Reilly, Irma Garcia, athletics department