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Mike Whalen '83
Mike Whalen '83
Title: Director of Athletics
Phone: (860) 685-2908
Email: mwhalen@wesleyan.edu

At the helm of the Wesleyan athletics program is Mike Whalen ’83, the Frank V. Sica director of athletics and chair of physical education. Whalen, in his tenth year at Wesleyan and his 36th in collegiate athletics, administers a broad-based sports program with a proud and successful history.

Since his arrival in 2010 as head football coach and associate athletics director, Whalen has built upon Wesleyan’s long-standing tradition of scholar-athlete excellence by orchestrating one of the NESCAC’s most assertive football program overhauls, building and upgrading department facilities, engaging with donors, and restructuring the department’s fundraising programs in order to help Wesleyan keep up in the now fast-paced world of Division III athletics.

While building on Wesleyan’s athletic and academic excellence is paramount, Whalen has also incorporated progressive ideas in the area of external relations. Initiatives such as the Athletic Mentoring Program; an informative and visually appealing new athletics website/app; and a revamped live stream service all serve to bring Cardinal Athletics into the homes of its supporters.

During his productive tenure at Wesleyan, Whalen has overseen continual growth in donations, and was instrumental in the creation of a Director of Athletic Fundraising position. With receipts now annually topping $1 million, he has seen benefits from several major gifts including the funding of the FieldTurf playing surface and lighting at Citrin Field, locker room renovations, the Jones Family scoreboard that supports Jackson Field, ongoing upgrades to the swimming pool, as well as endowments for football, men’s ice hockey, field hockey, women’s soccer and women’s crew. Whalen has initiated additional facility upgrades for women’s sports, replacing the field hockey/lacrosse turf as well as adding a press box and new scoreboard at Smith Field, and upgrading the softball field.

While much has been achieved in the last seven years, Whalen’s vision for Wesleyan Athletics carries well into the future. Working with campus and department leadership, he is developing a long-range plan that meshes with the University’s strategic plan and the next capital campaign. Whalen’s plan focuses on future facility upgrades, places an emphasis on diversity and gender equity, and promises the continued commitment to a student-centered athletics and recreation program that adheres to the student-athlete ideal.

After an illustrious undergraduate career at Wesleyan captaining both the football and wrestling teams, earning All-New England and All-America honors, and the first wrestler to win four consecutive New England titles and qualifying for the NCAA Division III Championships each of his four years, Whalen began his long-standing collegiate coaching career at Wesleyan in 1983-84 before going on to Springfield College serving as a graduate assistant in football and wrestling while earning his masters degree in sports administration. After Springfield, Whalen joined the football staff at the University of Pennsylvania and then Lafayette College, helping both win respective league titles. In 1993, Whalen assumed the position of associate head football coach for the Colgate University Red Raiders, a stint he held for three years before leaving for the NESCAC in 1996. Joining the Williams College staff as head wrestling/assistant football coach from 1996-2004, Whalen had 36 Ephs earn All-New England honors. He was named New England College Conference Wrestling Association Coach of the Year twice and has been inducted into the NEWA Hall of Fame.

In his six seasons leading the football Ephs, Whalen had a cumulative record of 38-10, earning four Little Three titles and only their sixth undefeated season (8-0) in 2006. Along with being chosen as the 2006 NESCAC Coach of the Year, Whalen was the recipient of many coaching honors, including selection as a finalist for the prestigious 2006 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, which is presented to the nation’s top coach in all divisions. Whalen was the only Division III coach among the 16 finalists. 

In Whalen’s five seasons (2010-14) at the helm of the Wesleyan football program (three years also as Director of Athletics), the Cardinals went 26-14 overall and posted back-to-back 7-1 seasons in 2013 and 2014 for the first time since the 1940’s. Wesleyan also won the Little Three title in 2013 for the first time in 43 years, and in 2014, the Cardinals put a program-record 12 players on the All-NESCAC team, including both the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. In the five years before his arrival, Wesleyan was just 11-29 overall.

As director of athletics since 2012, the athletic program as a whole has achieved unparalleled success. Following another historic spring season, the Cardinals recorded their highest finish ever in the 2018-19 Division III Learfield/IMG College Directors' Cup, finishing 14th overall out of 338 schools that registered points in the standings. It is now the fifth straight year in which Wesleyan has moved up the standings, continuing their climb to be one of the top Division III athletic programs in the country. Leading the way this past spring was women’s tennis as they won the second team NCAA championship in school history. The first national team championship was won by men’s lacrosse in 2018.