John Dzik

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Letters Main > Nick Luchko, Class of 2001, 2003

February 24, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Nicholas J. Luchko and I am a proud alumnus of the undergraduate class of 2001 and graduate class of 2003. I was the SGA president during the 2000-01 school year and involved in a number of leadership positions throughout my four years. I also never played in one athletic event, but was part of the Athletic department in other venues. I understand that a college is a business and that you have to do what you have to do. However, there are times when a decision is made that will affect a number of people on many levels. I am writing this letter because I would like to express my views about the dismissal of John Dzik.

I have known John since 1997. When I was a first year student, there were times my friends and I from Xavier Hall would be playing ball in Founders Hall gym and Coach Dzik (an honorary alumnus) would watch us, talk to us but most importantly mentored us. Not many people except maybe Dr.Primiano, John DiMucci or Dr.Young would do that. It meant even more to us, because it was after games and Dzik showed the commitment he had for not only his team but regular students like me.

John's enthusiasm with his players and the respect that he had for them was immeasurable. The “rap” that some of them received from other members of the Cabrini community were unnecessary and untrue because Dzik wouldn’t let it get to that point. I remember as an RA and as SGA President he would asked me about his players and made sure to let him know if they needed support.

John’s efforts have helped Cabrini own 13 out of a possible 23 President Cups in the Pennsylvania College Athletic League. Teams have won 43 championships. I have been informed by a number of people when I used to do the music at sporting events that he was the person who was influential in the conception of the PAC. In my research for this letter, it’s interesting to read the mission statement of the PAC, which John created, supported and believed in no doubt.

“The Conference is based upon NCAA Division III philosophies and will strive to be recognized in this context. The concept of the true student-athlete is the basic precept of this association. The members believe the student who participates in intercollegiate athletics at our institutions is playing for the true love of sport. We further believe the playing field is an integral aspect of the total educational experience imparted by each institution. Our philosophy is based upon our ability to create an opportunity for all constituencies of our college community to be participatory in our athletics programs.”

I highlighted those quotes because if the college’s decision to release Coach Dzik is solely on the college view to “the changing environment of NCAA Division III athletics, emphasizing that rigorous academic programs and participation in sports contributes significantly to the student's overall collegiate experience” then every coach at Cabrini should be released and we should not be in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference.

During Midnight Madness (which he totally made possible and supported), Dzik would encourage students to get involved and support all of the athletic teams, not just the basketball teams. He is an icon that I respect not only as a coach, but as a person.

In my research of this letter, I have found a number of quotes in The Loquitur that many people have said about John or John’s own words about his position and Cabrini College. I would like to present these quotes now:

“This man is one hell of a guy," Dr. Antoinette Iadarola, president of Cabrini College, said. She introduced Dzik before listing his coaching accomplishments.

According to Iadarola, Dzik’s accomplishments in coaching include presiding over the all-time winningest program in NCAA Division III history, obtaining 13 conference championships in 20 seasons, receiving recognition for Coach of the Year five times, and of capturing 19 winning seasons in 20 years. "I actually had goose bumps when I read these," Iadarola stated about Dzik’s successful career.
Loquitur Edition – 2/1/01 Dzik honored for 400th Win by Amy Gassen

“I think John should be recognized for his hard work and years of contribution for being both the athletic director and the head basketball coach. He has put Cabrini on the map, and racked up 454 wins as the basketball coach. Not many people have accomplished what he has done in his career to this point," Leslie Danehy said.
Loquitur Edition – 9/4/03 Dzik and Danehy receive promotions by Heather DiLalla

"Dzik enjoys coaching at a division III school because of the efforts seen in his athletes. At a DIII school, the players are referred to as student-athletes, not the other way around. Therefore, they are expected to do every inch of their school work as well as put 100 percent into their team.

"In my opinion, the athletes at Cabrini put more time and work in than the regular students," Dzik said. Dzik continued to say that the idea of a Jockocracy on campus was laughable and ridiculous.

Dzik's biggest wish is for students to start coming out and supporting their school's teams. "These are your classmates who represent your school, come out and support your friends," Dzik said.
Loquitur Edition – 11/20/03 – Coach Credits Division III athletes by John Holloway

"His first head coaching position came in 1980 when he was hired by Cabrini College. He's been here ever since. "My first team was in 1980," Dzik said. "I was hired because [Cabrini College] said they wanted to bring somebody here who could build them a winning athletic program and a winning basketball program and attract more men to the college."

Since taking the position 24 years ago, he has more than exceeded expectations. Since 1980, he has amassed the all-time winningest Division III basketball program record in terms of winning percentage. Dzik has an overall record of 454-192. He also coached Cabrini to 15 Conference Championships, 14 20-win seasons and 11 post-season Tournament bids. Just recently in 2002, John Dzik took Cabrini to the NCAA Division III Sweet 16.

When asked about retiring any time in the near future, Dzik said, "I don't have any plans right now. I take things a day at a time."

"It's like Joe Paterno. They're always asking him when he's going to retire," the coach said. "I'm a little too young to retire. I'm not as old as Joe Paterno. Joe's, I think, 77? Well, I won't be 77 years-old for another 23 years. So maybe I'll coach another 23 years like Joe Paterno. That would be something, wouldn't it?"

Off the court, John Dzik has accomplished much as well. He is responsible heading the creation of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference. "Pennsylvania Athletic Conference was kind of a dream of mine," he said. "I spent about two years trying to organize small colleges in the area to come together and form a conference. The original idea was a Catholic college conference but when we got people around a table, we didn't have enough to form a conference. So, it adjusted to the PAC, which included schools that did not have a Catholic heritage."

Since its inception, Dzik has been very pleased with its results. "It's turned out to be everything that I had envisioned and even more" he said. "I'm very proud of it. I'm very pleased that it has turned out to be such an outstanding league."

He is also responsible for making the athletic program at Cabrini what it is today. It can be contributed to the efforts of John Dzik, as well as the athletic department and Cabrini College itself that the athletics program has greatly grown in size and stature among the NCAA and PAC throughout the years. Dzik said, "I would like to think that when people look back on the contribution that I made here, that people would think that, 'Yes, John Dzik did a good job in helping to build the athletic program here.'"

In 2003, Dzik was promoted to the position of Special Assistant to the President for Athletic Advancement. When asked about what the position entails, Dzik said, "It's a friend-raising and fund-raising capacity where we look to make sure people are aware of our athletic program, participatory in it in terms of being aware of what our needs are."

"I look as my main goal to make a reconnection between our athletic alums, our alums in general and our athletic program at the college. We haven't had any real initiatives since this position has been created or before this position that would reach out to that group as it would relate to athletics. So this position has the opportunity to reach out to that constituency and get them involved in helping the athletic program continue to prosper and grow," he said.

When asked about how his experience at Cabrini College has been over the last twenty years, Dzik said, "I wouldn't trade it for anything."
Loquitur Edition – 12/3/04 Dzik, Cornerstone of Athletics by Paul Nasella

My grandfather, Joseph Hagan, who is 80 years old used to be an umpire with Coach and he would talk about this man and what he did for the kids of Delaware County. Coach Dzik even remembered my grandfather the year I graduated in 2001 and that was a good 20 – 30 years later.

I and the rest of my fellow alumni are speaking out because this is what Dzik and other members of Cabrini installed in us to do. Speak out for what we believed in and dedicate our lives to it.

Some questions that I have pondered over the last couple of weeks have been the following: Has the college lost sight of its strong alumni due to the efforts of Coach Dzik? Has the college taken any statistics of students who choose Cabrini because of the efforts and dedication of the athletic staff? What does the PAC think about this decision? Has the college begun efforts to have a meeting with the SGA about this decision? Has the college looked at possible ways of honoring Coach Dzik for his efforts of 25 years? Has the college thought about the national news coverage, because of our strong alumni, that would be made next year? What kind of recruiting would that bring for Cabrini?

Think about this scenario. I am a student-athlete in Texas and I am watching Sports Center and John Dzik appears on the screen and he just won his 500th game for Cabrini. I just got a letter from Cabrini's admissions office and I say to myself, “A Division III coach just won his 500 game and he has been there for 25 years? I am going there!” Has the college not thought of the great press it would bring?

Look at what the college has right here on this website. All these people willing to speak out about this man! Had the college even thought about sending something to its strong alumni about Coach Dzik 500 win and make it a celebration! I would have come back for that and so would others. We could have had it during Alumni or Family Weekend where it would be a celebration of John’s accomplishments over the years. How awesome would that have been for everyone involved! I know Mother Ursula would have been so proud and smiling down on all of us, the Cabrini Family!

Identity defines who you are. When I say I went to Cabrini, all people talk about now is Dzik. It’s not positive things about Cabrini, its negative. Is that what I want? No! I have been through this time at Cabrini when so much has happened. The Marquis Hotel deal of 98’, the “magical loss” of the entire student development staff of 99’, the student union meeting of 2000, and most recently the Identity Theft crisis of 2001 – 2004, which effect over 500 alumni, students and prospective students. What has occurred with Coach Dzik deals with the very fabric of what makes Cabrini College what it is today. I am at a loss of words for how I feel right now.

I am not saying that we are all perfect and yes, Dzik has made mistakes no doubt in the past. However his record with recruiting and graduation rate speaks for itself. The reaction of the alumni speaks for itself. My hope is that the college has thought about all the changes they are making and the effect that it will have on everyone within the Cabrini community and the future.

I will end this letter with a story that I heard recently that made me think of Coach Dzik. A man walks into a room and is the smallest person in the room. One of the taller gentlemen says to the man, “How does it feel to be the smallest person in the room?” The man replies, “I feel like a dime in a room full of pennies.” That dime is Coach Dzik and the pennies are every other coach in America. He has been a great person, friend and icon to Cabrini. Good Luck Coach, you will be missed and I hope that wherever you end up that someone at Cabrini starts selling that schools shirts in the bookstore a.k.a. Texas Tech at Indiana. (If you are a basketball fan, you know what I mean)

Thank you for your time and I hope all of my fellow alumni are doing well. It really is great to see us all come together; I just wished it was under better circumstances.

Nicholas J. Luchko

Class of 2001 and 2003