Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2002


MEDFORD – John Casey, a Tufts graduate and head coach of the Jumbo baseball team since 1984, has been named assistant director of athletics. Bill Gehling, the Director of Athletics since 1999, made the announcement earlier this month.

"I waited a couple of years to see what kind of help I needed," Gehling told the Tufts Daily. "I wanted to see what kind of assistance I needed. But I also wanted to see who in the department emerged. I felt that John clearly emerged as someone with character."

Gehling oversees the entire Department of Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation at Tufts. Casey, who has been the department's travel coordinator for several years, will continue as baseball coach while becoming more involved in the daily operations of the intercollegiate sports program such as budgeting and scheduling. Branwen Smith-King, the former head coach of women's cross country and track and field at Tufts, is an assistant athletic director in charge of physical education, intramurals, and health and fitness.

"I think sometimes things just evolve," Casey said to the Daily. "For a while I have been doing some administrative duties, but we are still figuring out the role. Whatever Bill wants me to do, I'm going to do."

Casey came from Jamaica Plain to Tufts in 1976 and graduated cum laude in 1980 as a child study major. He compiled a career record of 8-3 with four saves and a 3.23 earned run average as a pitcher for coaches Leo Fanning and Bill Samko. The team played in two consecutive ECAC Division II-III tournaments during his time. Casey was also a tight end on the 1979 undefeated football team, and scored eight touchdowns in his career.

The Tufts baseball team under Casey is one of the most competitive teams in New England every spring. He is the program's all-time leader in coaching victories with a 293-212-2 record through 18 seasons. Last year Tufts won the inaugural New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) East Division pennant, then lost to Williams in the conference championship game. In the 1990s Casey helped groom All-American pitcher Jeff Taglienti, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Red Sox in 1997 and is looking for his first shot in the majors this year as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

"My absolute first responsibility is to the kids on the team," Casey said. "In the spring that is my primary responsibility."

Casey was inducted into the Boston Park League Hall of Fame in 1999. He was one of the top players in the 1980s and one of the top umpires in 1990s for the oldest amateur baseball league in the country. He replaced Lee Sargent as Head Coach of baseball at Tufts when he was 25 years old in 1984. He was also a defensive assistant coach on Samko's football staff for several seasons until this past year.

"I was looking for someone who is a self-starter, intelligent, respected in the department, can make a difficult decision and understands the philosophy of what we are about at Tufts," Gehling said to the Daily. "Having been here as a student and as a staff member, he understands what we are about."

To Casey, it's about giving Tufts student-athletes a positive experience.

"I'd like every kid here to feel good about Tufts," he said. "I want every athlete to feel that they are cared about, because they are. Winning is secondary."