O’Connor Inducted into Sports Hall of Fame
Posted: March 23, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
Mason Athletic Director Tom O’Connor, a native of Union City, N.J., was inducted into the Hudson County (N.J.) Sports Hall of Fame on March 22 at the Casino-in-the-Park in Jersey City.
He headlined the 2007 class of 17 inductees, which included former University of Connecticut basketball great Jimmy Foster and St. Peter’s College standout Ken Markowski.
O’Connor was a star player in four sports — basketball, baseball, football and track and field, at the now defunct St. Michael’s High School before embarking on a college coaching and athletic administrative career.
The 17-year history of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame has witnessed its share of notables in the field of sports. Boston Celtic greats Tom Heinsohn and Togo Palazzi were among the charter class in 1991. CBS basketball analyst Bill Raftery, New York Yankee Johnny Kucks, St. Anthony’s High School basketball coach Robert Hurley and Associate Commissioner of the ACC Fred Barakat all have been inducted.
O’Connor is currently in his 12th year at Mason and his fourth decade in NCAA Division I athletics. The 2005-06 men’s basketball team completed the best season in school history, making a trip to the 2006 NCAA Final Four and becoming the first school from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) to do so.
The men’s volleyball team was also in the national spotlight last season by maintaining a national ranking throughout the season. The Patriots were unbeaten at home, and senior Shaun Powell was selected as Division I-II First-Team All-American. He was the 10th Mason men’s volleyball player to garner All-American honors and the first since Mike Mauro in 1994.
O’Connor, 60, is currently in his third year of a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee and will serve as the chair of the committee next year. He has held a seat on the prestigious Management Council and was a member of the Division I Strategic Planning Committee and the Selection Review Committee.
He was involved with the NCAA restructuring process as a member of the business/finance cabinet, and he served a term as a member of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee in September 1997. He completed a two-year term as president of the CAA in 2004.
He is also a member of the Assumption College Athletic Hall of Fame. He received the Pathfinder Award at the New England Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005.
Under his leadership, Mason student-athletes have excelled in the classroom. Three Patriots have received academic All-America recognition in his tenure, most recently Chris Looze, who in 2005 became the first Mason student-athlete to garner academic player of the year in baseball. Art Kulans won the honor twice for men’s volleyball — First Team (2003) and Second Team (2002). Keri Chaconas, who went on to play in the WNBA in the league’s inaugural season, was a Third Team (1996) Academic All-American in 1996 in women’s basketball.
O’Connor’s teams have reached regional and national heights. Mason’s track and field program won the NCAA Indoor Title in 1996. Loyola won the 1976 men’s soccer national championship, while Santa Clara’s 1989 men’s soccer team was the co-national champion with Virginia, and the 1991 squad was the national runner-up. The school also earned NCAA bids in men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer and baseball.