PAWTUCKET, R.I. - The common data has long suggested businesses in its first year fail about 50 percent of the time and the percentage increases to 95 percent of new businesses fail within five years, which puts a strong emphasis on strong leadership. The Little East Conference has had some of the best leaders over the league’s 30 years, including this week’s LEC Influencer Robert Dowd.
Dowd was named the second Commissioner of the Little East Conference as he succeeded Dick Costello, the league’s Commissioner for the first five years of existence 1986-1990. Dowd guided the conference through conference expansion between the years of 1990-1995. He was instrumental in the expansion to seven full-time members with the addition of Western Connecticut State in 1993. Dowd also helped the conference expand its sports sponsorship offering with the inclusion of women’s soccer in 1990. Dowd returned to the helm of the conference in 2013 when he was named Interim Commissioner.
Dowd began his career at Southeastern Massachusetts technological Institute (SMTI) in 1967, directing the men’s cross country program and would later oversee the women’s cross country program in 1974. During his 42-years at UMass Dartmouth, serving as an administrator and coach, Dowd accumulated an impressive combined coaching record of 305-53-1 and has coached and mentored six individual NCAA National Champions and 33 Division III All-America performers during his career from 1967 through 1987.
Dowd led the men’s cross country program to 10 consecutive NCAA berths and finished a program-best fourth place in 1980. He also guided the women’s programs to three NCAA Championship appearances, including a back-to-back fourth place finish in 1981 and 1982.
Dowd was named UMass Dartmouth’s Athletic Director in 1987. Dowd replaced the retired Mickey Connolly and served as the department’s head executive continuously until 1995. Dowd would later serve as Interim Athletic Director twice to help with its transition periods. Dowd was inducted into the UMass Dartmouth Hall of Fame in 1998 and inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame in 2013.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today’s 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England’s premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.