Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

Andy Noel plans to retire after serving as athletic director for the past 23 years.

March 4, 2022

Athletic Director Andy Noel Announces Plans to Retire

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After 40 years at Cornell, athletic director Andy Noel announced on Wednesday that he plans to retire this year.

Noel, whose current contract expires in June, will finish this academic year and will serve into the 2022-23 academic year until the University names a successor. Cornell said it will begin a search for a successor this summer.

Cornell has claimed 106 Ivy League team titles and 35 individual and team national championships during Noel’s 23 years as athletic director.

Noel has been a prolific fundraiser and has overseen the renovation of many of Cornell’s athletic facilities, including Lynah Rink, the Cornell Rowing Center, Niemand-Robison Field and the Friedman Wrestling Center. He presided over plans to relocate baseball’s Hoy Field to a new facility near East Hill Plaza.

Under Noel’s tenure, annual contributions to the athletic department have grown from $1.9 million in 1999 to $8.4 million in 2021.

Prior to taking over as athletic director, Noel served 14 years as the wrestling head coach. Noel’s teams won four Ivy League titles during his tenure as head coach. 

“When I arrived in Ithaca 40 years ago, I did not anticipate that over four decades of my professional life would be fully invested in all things Big Red,” Noel said in his announcement. “Beloved colleagues, outstanding coaches, program leaders and many thousands of athletes have earned my respect and care, shaping my life in ways that find me forever blessed.”

Noel’s tenure has not been without controversy. In 2013, the men’s lacrosse team was suspended following a hazing scandal. More recently, a group of former softball players accused the team’s coaching staff of mistreating injuries and alleged that Noel and the athletic department ignored their concerns. 

It remains unclear whether Noel’s decision to retire was informed by his contract status. In September, The Sun obtained an email that circulated amongst Cornell basketball alums that suggested that the University had informed Noel that it might not renew his contract.

Nevertheless, Noel has put together a remarkable tenure. He is the longest tenured athletics director in the Ivy League and the 12th longest in Division I. 

The athletics department’s release announcing Noel’s plans reads, in part:

“Noel’s legacy of student-centered leadership, as well as his laser-focused commitment and loyalty to his coaches and staff, has been the foundation upon which he built an athletics department considered a model by those who value excellence on the competition field, in the classroom and beyond.”