Do all ADs leave BC a better place than they found it?
Whenever anyone writes or talks about Gene's tenure (myself included) they always include some sort of caveat that "BC Athletics is in a better place than he found it" or some similar sentiment. Since I was a student during the transition from Gladchuk to Defilippo, I have vivid memories of what it was like then and where things are now and thought it might be time to compare the transitions. Because of the progress of BC as a whole and the growth of college athletics, most BC ADs could say they left BC a better place than they found it.
Being an AD is highly political and involves two things people hold dear (money and sports). Unless an AD moves on before opinions change, he or she are going to step on enough toes to the point where everyone wants him or her gone. It happened with Gene and it happened with Gladchuk. To give people perspective on Gladchuk and his parallels to Defilippo, let me breakdown the major issues then and their relevancy now.
Gladchuk's major accomplishment was the renovation of Alumni. This was as big a facilities project as any Gene has done. Much of the momentum and fundraising was based off of Tom Coughlin's success, but it was still on Chet's watch. BC facilities were definitely in a better place after his tenure.
When Gladchuk tookover BC in 1990, the Big East was only a basketball conference. During his time, the Big East expanded multiple times and added football. The new conference earned a national TV deal on CBS and gave a boost to many of our non-revenue sports. It was still an awkward combination of schools, but BC was in a better more secure place than they were when he started.
BC won the College Football Association's Academic Achievement Award three times under Gladchuk. If anything this speaks to a culture and emphasis on the student aspect of "student-athlete" that predates both Chet and Gene. Like Gene, Chet deserves credit for preserving this part of our culture, but I don't know if he or anyone can claim they made it better. It is a BC thing, not an AD thing.
Gladchuk was able to raise a lot of money and create new things for fans and alumni to sponsor or buy. However, like Gene, he stepped on some big donors' toes. (Once again, it is the nature of the job.) And like Gene, the fundraising aspect of his job is the only area where you could question if BC was better off. He raised previously unprecedented levels of money, but also burned enough bridges that the new guy had to come in and repair relationships.
Athletic Department Operations
Gene's defenders will tell you that he took over a Department in the dark ages when it came to how we promote, market, licenses or sell Boston College Athletics. The same could be said about Gladchuk. He was taking over for the revered Bill Flynn, who still did things in an old school fashion. BC was never ahead of the curve in this area, but Gladchuk left the school in a better place.
Gladchuk hired Tom Coughlin...and Dan Henning. He also screwed up the hockey program before lucking into York. In basketball, he inherited JOB and was ready to fire him, if not for some lobbying from alums and due to JOB's wife losing her battle with cancer. It was a mixed bag to say the least. Henning was really what did him in. When any AD is so closely tied to a bad football hire at a football school, it is going to generate a lot of criticism. TOB and Al Skinner both came in during Chet's last days, but he was not the main decision maker on either. He was a lame duck who wanted Randy Edsall. Sullivan and Leahy made the final decision on both coaches. Both turned out to be just what BC needed and led the school to success over the next decade. BC was in a better place, but it really wasn't Chet's doing.