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Now in her ninth full year as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy has presided over one of the most successful periods in Columbia Athletics history.

Columbia teams have excelled across the board during her tenure. Since 2004-05, Columbia has won Ivy League titles in 12 different sports including baseball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s fencing, women’s fencing, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s indoor track and field, men’s tennis and women’s tennis.

A prominent and active administrator on the national collegiate athletics landscape, Murphy was named to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee in February 2011. She also developed an elite leadership-training program for college women’s basketball coaches, The Center for Coaching Excellence, in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).  

In 2012-13, baseball won its second Ivy League title in five years and won a game in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships for the first time in school history.  Women’s tennis won its first Ivy League title in school history and produced the school’s first-ever women’s tennis Ivy League Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.  Columbia Athletics has also produced 90 individual Ivy League titles over the last five years, the most in school history.

Several Columbia teams rose to the top of the Ivy League standings in 2011-12. The women’s indoor track and field team won its first Ivy League title in program history. The men’s cross country team and the men’s tennis each earned at-large bids to their NCAA Championships. For cross country, it was its first-ever NCAA at-large bid and for men’s tennis, it was their first at-large bid in 14 years.

In all, five Columbia teams finished in second place in the Ivy League in 2011-12 and 14 teams finished third or higher at the end of the year.

In 2010-11, 22 Columbia student-athletes won Ivy League individual championships, the most ever in a single academic year in school history. 


Men’s squash and women’s squash became Columbia’s 30thand 31st intercollegiate varsity sport programs in 2009, making Columbia one of the few NCAA Division I institutions to add sports over the last five years.

Murphy has overseen a number of initiatives aimed at transforming the experience of Columbia’s more than 800 student-athletes. She has undertaken a complete strategic planning process aimed at short- and long-term excellence in athletics.

Murphy spearheaded the creation of the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame, which had its inaugural ceremony on February 18, 2006. The fourth and most recent Athletics Hall of Fame class will be inducted in October 2012.  Murphy also initiated the celebration of the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium Silver Anniversary, honoring 25 years of women’s athletics at Columbia.

A steward of leadership initiatives, Murphy created the Leaders for Life program in 2008, designed to provide comprehensive leadership training to student-athlete representatives from all 31 of Columbia’s varsity sports programs.  

Murphy came to Columbia after six years as Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Denver, where she led the Pioneers’ program from NCAA Division II to one of the nation’s top Division I athletics programs. Under Murphy’s leadership, eight Denver sport programs made NCAA tournament appearances and, on four occasions, Denver teams won a national title.

In 2003-04, Denver enjoyed its best season when it won the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, placed third in the NCAA Skiing Championship, and advanced to NCAA tournaments in women’s soccer, women’s tennis, and men and women’s golf.

The scope of Denver’s athletics excellence was recognized nationally through the United States Sports Academy’s Directors’ Cup, which recognized the best overall athletics programs in the nation, determined by an award of points based on teams’ finishes. The University of Denver finished among the nation’s top third of athletics programs in each of its six years since becoming a Division I member in 1998-99. In 2004, the Pioneers set a University record when they finished 58th in the Directors’ Cup, in the top 20 percent of all NCAA Division I schools.

Denver’s athletics program served as a model for national and regional academic, as well as athletics, excellence. The Pioneers gained numerous academic honors, among them the Sun Belt Conference Graduation Rate Award, which it earned for five consecutive years.

Prior to joining the University of Denver, Murphy served as associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Cornell University from 1995 to 1998. She oversaw nine Division I sports, marketing and promotions, sports information and alumni and booster activities. She helped hire football and basketball coaches and was an advocate for the coaches. Cornell enhanced its equity initiatives and increased its fundraising revenues under her guidance.

From 1988 to 1995, she was the assistant athletics director at The University of Iowa, serving as the university’s lead administrator for external activities. She worked on behalf of Iowa’s coaches, and was effective in enhancing a strong compliance program. 



Murphy began her athletics administrative career in 1987-88 as the assistant athletics director at Kentucky State University. From 1986 to 1988, she chaired the school’s Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, served as an associate professor and advised undergraduate students.

Prior to becoming an athletics administrator, Murphy coached basketball for 13 years. She was the head women’s basketball coach at Shorter College (1973-76), Florida State University (1976-79) and Eastern Kentucky University (1979-86).

Murphy was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Administrator of the Year in 2004. She chaired the NCAA Division I Basketball Issues Committee from 2002 to 2004 and is currently is a member of the State Farm Wade Trophy Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Committee. She also served on the NCAA Certification and Diversity Committee and the Board of Directors for the Women’s Collegiate Sports Awards, the organization that presents the Honda Award and the Honda-Broderick Cup.

She is active in several national organizations, including the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the WBCA. She was named NACWAA’s Division I (Football Championship Subdivision) National Administrator of the Year for 2007-08 and served as NACWAA’s president during 2002-03. In 2004, NACDA honored her as the General Sports Turf West Athletic Director of the Year. The All-American Football Foundation has presented her with the Senior Sports Administrator Award.



At Columbia, she helped initiate the University’s Sports Management master’s degree program. She serves on the faculty as an instructor. 



Murphy holds a Ph.D. in administration and curriculum from Florida State (1980), and master’s (1973) and bachelor’s (1972) degrees from Tennessee Technological University. The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association honored her with its 2005 Distinguished Alumna Award. Florida State presented her with its “Grad Made Good” award at its 2005 Homecoming.

She lives in Manhattan, near the Columbia campus.


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