After 37 years at Wesleyan, John Biddiscombe, the college's much-admired director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department, has announced his retirement at the end of this academic year. His contributions to Wesleyan, as a coach and as an administrator, have been enormous.
Biddiscombe came to Wesleyan in 1974 as a three-sport coach of football, wrestling, and track and field. He was head coach of wrestling from 1974 to 1989 with a won-loss record of 128-85-3, and in 1984 the team won the New England championship. He was voted New England wrestling coach of the year in 1984 and 1989, and was inducted into the New England Collegiate Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004.
As director of athletics, Biddiscombe oversaw the development of the Freeman Athletic Center, one of the premier athletic facilities in New England. He championed the recruitment of full-time coaches for women’s sports, initiated a team mentoring program with faculty, helped establish the Alumni Athletics Advisory Council, and developed the Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame. In 1999-2000, he was named Division III Athletic Director of the Year for the Northeast Region by the National Association of College Athletic Directors.
Biddiscombe's involvement in the wider athletic arena has been extensive. He chaired the NCAA Management Council responsible for oversight of Division III operations and was a member of the NCAA Executive Committee. He contributed to the Mellon Foundation’s study of college athletics that resulted in the book, “Reclaiming the Game,” and has been an important voice in the New England College Athletic Conference, serving as president in 1995-1996.
His service to others has extended well beyond athletics. He was president of the Middlesex United Way from 2002-2004, and has served United Way in many other capacities. He has also worked with the Middlesex County Community Foundation as chair of its grants committee and vice chair of its Board of Directors, and served on the Executive Committee of the Nutmeg Chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Michael Whalen ’83, head coach of football and assistant athletics director, will succeed John as athletics director on July 1, 2012. Whalen will continue as head coach of football, and John will remain available next fall to assist with the transition.
Thanks to Biddiscombe's superb leadership, Wesleyan offers an outstanding athletic program. Opportunities for students to participate in sports at all levels, with first-rate facilities and support, are abundant.
Biddiscombe is a 1967 graduate of Springfield College where he lettered in football. He received his M.S. from Slippery Rock State College. Before coming to Wesleyan, Biddiscombe was head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Muhlenberg College for three years.