2018 WCC HOH Inductee: Brian Quinn, Loyola Marymount
WCC Columnist John Crumpacker profiles a lifelong Lion
By John Crumpacker, #WCChoops Columnist
Leading up to the 2018 West Coast Conference Hall of Honor induction ceremony Saturday, March 3 at the Orleans Casino Resort, WCC Columnist John Crumpacker is profiling each inductee. Today’s feature focuses on former two-sport star and former LMU Athletic Director Brian Quinn.
Throughout a life that has stretched nearly 80 years, Brian Quinn has been a student, a two-sport college athlete, worked in insurance and hated it, returned to school to get an MBA, started coaching, moved into athletic administration, segued into fundraising in what he thought would otherwise be retirement, was called back into administration, eventually did retire only to find himself, at 76, as a coach once again -- of his granddaughter’s 5th grade basketball team.
Clearly, a life well lived is still going strong.
“I’m just a very lucky man,’’ Quinn said. “I did what I loved every day for most of my career.’’
That career will add one more honor when Quinn is inducted into the West Coast Conference Hall of Honor Class of 2018 for his time as a baseball and basketball player at Loyola Marymount in the early 1960s and later as athletic director at LMU from 1985-98. Quinn and nine other worthies from around the conference will be honored March 3 at the Orleans in Las Vegas in conjunction with the WCC Basketball Tournament.
“Oh, my, I was completely surprised,’’ Quinn said when informed of the Hall of Honor. “I guess shocked. So humbled and honored. I had followed the award and knew what it was. It was a wonderful surprise.’’
Quinn and his wife of 54 years, Collette, will be at the Hall of Honor ceremony with at least one of their children. The Quinns have four children and 13 grandchildren, the latter called “the joy of my life,’’ by their grandfather.
At 76, Quinn will be the oldest honoree this year, while at 30, former BYU middle distance runner Miles Batty is the youngest. There’s no ageism at work in the WCC, that’s for sure.
From St. Bernard’s High School in nearby Gardena, Quinn matriculated to LMU to study and to play baseball and basketball. On the court he averaged 13 points per game and knocked down 78 percent of his free throws.
“I did start in both sports,’’ he said. “I was captain of the baseball team, MVP of the basketball team my senior year. Baseball at that time at Loyola wasn’t real strong. It didn’t get the emphasis on money. I didn’t do as well in baseball. I would go from one (sport) to the other. It’s hard for a player in basketball to have success in baseball because you haven’t practiced. I wasn’t a superstar in either one. I was a good role player.’’
Quinn went to LMU at a time when it was all-male and known as Loyola. While in school, Quinn met his future wife, Collette, who was a student at nearby Mount Saint Mary’s.
“I loved it, absolutely loved it,’’ he said. “Met so many wonderful friends. I met my wife after my sophomore year. I made lifelong friends. It was a wonderful school, wonderful education.’’
Quinn graduated at 21 and spent the ensuing 20-25 years as a teacher, coach and administrator at the high school level. Included in his long career was a part-time stint in community college teaching volleyball.
“I got hooked,’’ he said. “I thought I wanted to teach. I went to work as a teacher and coach in high school. I did that for a number of years. Then I went into high school administration.’’
In 1985, his alma mater came calling and Quinn was named athletics director at LMU and served in that capacity for the next 13 years, meaning his tenure included the all-too-brief glory years of basketball featuring coach Paul Westhead and the indelible playing tandem of Bo Kimble and the late Hank Gathers.
During his time as AD, LMU teams advanced to the NCAA playoffs 11 times in a variety of sports, including the 1986 Baseball College World Series and the 1990 NCAA basketball tournament’s Elite Eight.
“Some of the happiest times of my life,’’ Quinn said of his tenure as LMU’s AD. “Loved it. It’s my alma mater. It was going home for me. Really, really going home, being around the Jesuits again. It was a very, very special time, a real happy time for us.’’
And also, an unbearably sad time as well, when Gathers collapsed and died during a WCC Tournament semifinal game on March 4, 1990. The cause of death was a heart condition.
“That was one of the worst periods of my life, with the lawsuit and deposition,’’ Quinn said. “He was such a nice fellow. That was really hard, very, very tough on my family.’’
Quinn said he spoke to Gathers a few days before he died and related that Gathers was feeling the grind of his and LMU’s celebrity status in college basketball.
“The talk shows, he was besieged all the time, he and Bo,’’ Quinn said. “It started to wear on him. That was really difficult. I told him he could be a teacher (if a likely NBA career did not materialize). Kids loved him. We had that conversation about his becoming a teacher. He was a fine young man.’’
Overall, though, Quinn said, “I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.’’
After stepping down as AD in 1998, Quinn continued to work for LMU as a fundraiser for the next four years … until Cal State Fullerton wooed him to be its athletics director and hired him in 2002, when he was envisioning retirement. Oh, well. Quinn spent the next decade at Fullerton, retiring on Jan. 19, 2013.
“So, at age 60 I moved on to a new career,’’ he said. “I terribly missed players and coaches. I went from being one of the youngest ADs at LMU and at the end I was one of the oldest (at Fullerton).
Think Quinn has slowed down? Think again. He works for the NCAA in site management for postseason baseball, dealing with umpires and crowd control. “A lot of work and great fun,’’ he said. Quinn plays a little golf “not very well’’ and serves as co-chair of the board at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, not far from his home in Manhattan Beach, five blocks from the ocean.
And then there’s his most important job, coaching his granddaughter’s 5 th grade basketball team at American Martyrs Catholic Church in Manhattan Beach.
“Beautiful church, beautiful views,’’ Quinn said, reiterating, “I’m just a very lucky man.’’
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards. Crumpacker has been covering #WCChoops since the 2014-15 season.