Thomas Niland

Basketball

Enshrined: 1988

Born: April 20, 1921

Tonawanda, NY

Died: March 16, 2004

Tom Niland, a two-sport athlete in high school and decorated war hero, helped lay the foundation for future athletes as a coach and administrator at Le Moyne College. Niland served his country during World War II from 1942-1945 and received a Silver Star and a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he went back to school and earned a college degree at Canisius College in 1947.

Le Moyne College, founded in 1946, hired Niland in 1948 to teach and become its first basketball coach and athletic director. He coached the Dolphins for 27 seasons and went to seven NCAA post-season tournaments. Niland finished with a career record of 327-219. He was also named National Catholic Coach of the Year for the 1959-1960 season.

Niland served as the college’s athletic director for 42 years until his retirement in 1990. During his tenure, he was on the NCAA Infractions Committee and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee, the first non-Division I athletic director appointed to those respective committees. He also helped introduced legislation to bring women’s programs under the umbrella of an all-male NCAA. In 2000, Le Moyne named its athletic complex after Niland, who is a member of the Le Moyne’s hall of fame. He is also a member of the Canisius College Hall of Fame.

Career highlights:

1942-45: Served in the military; 1941 Paratrooper, 101st Airborne Division; Received a Silver Star and a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge

1947: Class President of Canisius College

1948: Joined Le Moyne College staff as a teacher, basketball coach, and athletic director

1948-1975: Coached Le Moyne College basketball for 27 seasons; participated in seven NCAA post-season tournaments, compiling a 327-219 (.599) record.

1948-1990: Le Moyne College Athletic Director.

1959-1960: National Catholic Coach of the Year

1974: Received the Blind Men and Criers annual “Edward J Kearney Award” for his service to the Syracuse community.

1982: Received the Victor Hanson Medal from Syracuse University’s Hardwood Club.

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