Danvers native Dana Skinner, the former director of athletics at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, will be presented with the prestigious Hockey East Founder's Medal along at this year's Hockey East championships.
Skinner, who will receive this honor along with former Boston College associate athletic director Tom Peters, will be feted in a ceremony that will take place on the ice at TD Garden in Boston on Friday, March 22, between the league's semifinal playoff games.
The Hockey East Founders Medal was established in 2009 upon the occasion of the 25th anniversary Hockey East season. The inaugural recipients were, fittingly, the five founding athletic directors who created the conference in the mid-1980s. In all, the award has been presented to seven institutional administrators, three conference administrators, two administrators associated with the TD Garden (home of the Hockey East championship) and two head coaches.
“Tom and Dana combined for nearly six decades of contributions to the advancement of Hockey East,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna in a statement. “The quality and length of their service to growing the conference are unparalleled in the history of Hockey East.”
Generally acknowledged as the best Danvers High School boys basketball player of all time, Skinner retired from UMass Lowell this past September after more than three decades of leadership and service at the school, including 23 years as director of intercollegiate athletics. He recently led the university’s successful transition to NCAA Division 1 competition, a comprehensive five-year process that was formally completed last summer.
The 63-year-old Skinner’s commitment to excellence was reflected in his focus on both sides of the “student-athlete” term. Since joining the Division 1 America East Conference in 2013, UMass Lowell student-athletes have achieved a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher every semester.
A firm believer that sports can be used to promote positive social change, Skinner took pride in the River Hawks’ community engagement efforts with the Special Olympics, the National Youth Sports Program, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Team Impact.
A Division 2 All-American during his own playing days at Merrimack College (Class of 1978), Skinner was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the third round (50th overall) of the NBA draft and played briefly for the Maine Lumberjacks of the Continental Basketball Association.
He later became head coach of the New England Gulls of the Women’s Professional Basketball Association and earned a master’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas (Miami).
Before landing at UMass Lowell, Skinner served as the head basketball coach for the Bishop Fenwick boys for three seasons and the Salem State men for two more.