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Former CU Athletics Director Al Paul dies at 88

  • In Memoriam | Al Paul (left), who spent 17 years as Columbia’s athletic director and was also an assistant football coach for the Lions, died Monday.

Former Columbia Athletic Director Al Paul died Monday at the age of 88. 

Paul came to Columbia in 1960 as an assistant coach on the football team. He took over as athletic director in 1974 and held the post for more than 17 years, heading the athletic department when Columbia College first admitted women in 1983.

The Maryland native played a vital role in the creation of the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, which remains the only Division I consortium in the NCAA. He also oversaw the construction of new football and soccer facilities at the Baker Athletics Complex.

“Al Paul left an indelible imprint on Columbia Athletics over the course of more than 30 years—first as an assistant football coach and then as Director of Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics,” Athletic Director M. Dianne Murphy said in a statement.

A number of programs did very well during Paul’s tenure. Baseball and wrestling captured three Ancient Eight titles each, while tennis and swimming both won two Ivy championships. But the most successful programs under Paul were fencing and soccer.

Fencing took home seven Ivy titles and three national championships, while soccer won eight consecutive Ivy League titles and finished as the national runner-up in 1983 after falling to Indiana in overtime.

These successes were tempered by a football team that amassed four winless seasons and eight one-win campaigns while Paul was at the helm of the athletic department.

While the Light Blue captured its only Ivy football crown in 1961 with Paul as assistant coach, as athletic director, Paul saw the Lions record their historic 44-game losing streak at the newly constructed Lawrence A. Wien Stadium, between 1983 and 1988.

After 34 years at Columbia, Paul retired in 1991 and returned to Maryland.

He is survived by his wife Anita.

eli.schultz@columbiaspectator.com | @elischultz28

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CU_Alum posted on

Both the football and soccer stadiums were built while Paul was the A.D. He also oversaw upgrades to portions of Dodge.

To correct one minor error: The football team's lengthy losing streak began the year before Wien Stadium opened.

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