Suffolk Names New Associate Director of Athletics
Before he was Suffolk’s new associate director of athletics, Adam Skaggs was a fan.
As a teenager, Skaggs was a regular at Suffolk men’s basketball games, watching his older brother, Tim Skaggs, BGS ’09, play forward for the Rams. “Tim is my best friend, so I would always encourage and support him any way I could,” says Skaggs. “He was with the program for four years and I remember how he loved the student-athlete experience.”
Now, more than a decade later, Skaggs finds himself back at the University, charged with “enhancing the student-athlete experience” for the more than 300 Suffolk men and women who compete in 19 Division III intercollegiate sports.
In addition to playing a major role in the day-to-day operations of the Athletics Department, Skaggs will focus on programming for two areas central not only to the sports world but society at large: increasing mental health awareness and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
'A self-starter who gets things done'
A Framingham native, Skaggs comes to Boston after spending the past six years in Indianapolis as the NCAA’s assistant director for Division III governance communications. There he served as the primary liaison with NCAA Communications for oversight of Division III messaging and strategic communications, and assisted in the development of essential initiatives, policies, and educational resources, including a successful a national social media campaign that gave student-athletes a platform to raise awareness around mental health.
“Adam has a really good skill set and tremendous experience in the field,” says Suffolk’s Director of Athletics Cary McConnell. “He’s a self-starter who figures out how to get things done, from the idea phase to developing programs that benefit student-athletes and everyone involved.”
“Listening to what people have to say is so important, especially when it comes to decision-making,” Skaggs says.
His role was made possible through an NCAA grant that helps Division III members enhance ethnic minority and gender representation in mid-to-senior-level administrative positions. Suffolk was one of just five institutions to receive the grant this year.
McConnell says he’s very grateful for the NCAA’s support. “I believe a big part [of why we received the grant] is because the Athletics Department totally supports the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Building an equal platform
Skaggs uses author Verna May’s well-known metaphor to describe his approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion work: “‘Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance,’” he says.
Equity, he stresses, is the ultimate goal: “We want to make this place as inclusive as possible in the areas of race, disability, LGBTQ, class, socio-economic status, age, and more.” To that end, he is working with Bea Patiño, director of Suffolk’s Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion, to “create a DEI coalition made up of current student-athletes, Athletics staff, and campus partners who will help guide the growth of inclusive leaders through advocacy, training, outreach, and policy.”
Skaggs is also partnering with Suffolk’s Counseling, Health & Wellness Center to develop a yearlong slate of mental-health programming for student-athletes. The first session, scheduled for October 3 at Sargent Hall, will focus on depression and finding ways to gain access to support.
“The number of student-athletes suffering from depression and anxiety has taken a huge jump in the two and a half years since COVID began,” says Skaggs. “I want to provide our student-athletes with the necessary resources they need, such as access to counselors and up-to-date information about mental health, so they can have the best possible college experience.”
Skaggs played basketball at Trinity College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2013. He earned his master’s degree in management from Simmons College (now Simmons University) in 2016.
Asked who would win a game of one-on-one between him and his brother, who is five years older, Skaggs raised his hands and smiled brightly.
“Me, of course,” he says.