June 24, 2005
Notre Dame, Ind. – Former University of Notre Dame senior associate athletics director Joe O’Brien has received the George Eldridge Distinguished Service Award from the College Athletic Business Management Association.
The award is presented to members or former members of CABMA who have been active members for a period of 10 years and who have demonstrated outstanding service to CABMA and/or the field of intercollegiate athletics. The individual must have retired or be retiring no later than the month of December following the annual convention, or be leaving the field of intercollegiate athletics.
The award was presented earlier this month in Orlando at the annual CABMA convention. Bob Cahill, previously both business manager and ticket manager, was Notre Dame’s only other recipient, back in 1975.
After 18 years of exemplary service to Notre Dame athletics, and 40 years of service to his alma mater, O’Brien retired in 1993. O’Brien served as the senior associate athletics director during his final two years as a member of the Notre Dame athletics department staff. In this position, O’Brien concentrated his efforts on the overall administration of the 24-sport Irish athletics program, in addition to serving as then-athletic director Dick Rosenthal’s top aide based on his expertise in the areas of facilities, personnel and administration.
During the previous 16 years, O’Brien served as business manager, assistant athletics director and associate athletics director while directing nearly all of the day-to-day operations of the department. While overseeing all budgetary and purchasing procedures initially, O’Brien’s expanded administrative assignments included the organization of national travel for Fighting Irish football and men’s and women’s basketball. His tenure at Notre Dame featured the handling of 12 major bowl trips, 11 NCAA men’s basketball tournament appearances and a trip to Japan for the ’79 Mirage Bowl. He also served as the tournament director for the ’85 and ’88 first-and-second-round basketball tournament games held at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center.
Before joining the Irish athletic staff in May 1976, O’Brien, a 1949 Notre Dame graduate, spent more than 20 years directing personnel functions at the University, the largest employer in South Bend, Ind.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., O’Brien served a tour of duty in the Marine Corps and worked in personnel service for both the Whirlpool Corporation and the Oliver Corporation. He returned to his alma mater in 1955.
O’Brien served as president of CABMA in 1983, and was chosen CABMA business manager of the year that same year. He is also an inductee into the First Interstate Bank Athletic Hall of Fame.
Active in many civic and community organizations in the South Bend area, O’Brien and his wife, Betty, have one daughter, Susan, a 1976 Notre Dame graduate. The O’Briens reside in South Bend.