Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sarah Willie-LeBreton has announced that Brad Koch will join Swarthmore College as the next director and chair of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation.
Koch arrives at Swarthmore after having served as the director of athletics and recreation at Cabrini University for the past nine years. Prior to that, he had been Philadelphia University’s associate director of athletics for seven years.
Koch is the department’s fourth full-time director of athletics since the men’s and women’s departments merged in 1979. He takes over for Karen Borbee, who held the position of interim director of athletics since October.
“My sincere gratitude to President Smith, Dr. Willlie-LeBreton, Karen Borbee, and the entire search committee for giving me this opportunity,” says Koch. “It became very apparent throughout the interview process that the Swarthmore administration is committed to the development of community throughout campus and beyond. It is also clear that the coaches and staff in this department are exceptional, and I very much look forward to working with them to further lead and inspire our student-athletes to reach their full potential.”
Willie-LeBreton commented on what set Koch apart in this national search. “Throughout the process, Brad demonstrated a strong commitment to collaboration, community, communication, and competition,” she says. “His student-centered interest, commitment to professional development of coaches, and broad approach to wellness, recreation, and physical education helped him stand out from a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates.”
With Koch at the helm, Cabrini won its first-ever NCAA National Championship, claiming the Division III men’s lacrosse title in 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field, defeating Amherst, 16-12. Cabrini teams took home 58 conference championships during his tenure and appeared in 41 NCAA Tournaments, and more than 90 All-American honors were earned by student-athletes.
He spearheaded the expansion of Cabrini’s athletic department to 19 Division III varsity programs by adding baseball, women’s rowing, and women’s golf. Koch got an introduction to the Centennial Conference in 2019–20 when Cabrini’s women’s golf team began competing in the conference as an affiliate member. Additionally, Koch pushed through the addition of a number of full-time staff positions in Cabrini’s athletic department that supported student-athletes and the success of the program as a whole.
In supervising and planning of facility upgrades, Koch was instrumental in the replacement of Cabrini’s stadium turf field; the installation of new scoreboards, dugouts, and press boxes; the creation of an indoor golf facility; and the construction of a 38,000-square-foot, two-story pavilion that is the home of a fitness facility, exercise studios, event space, locker rooms, athletic training rooms, classrooms, and a cafe and gathering space. He also executed the opening of the Cabrini-Carroll Baseball Field, a partnership with Archbishop Carroll High School for the joint use of the all-turf field.
Koch emphasized giving back to the community as athletic director at Cabrini. In 2018–19 alone, the department engaged in more than 25 community outreach initiatives, logged more than 1,600 hours of community service, and raised $13,000 for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Koch also encouraged an ongoing relationship with Team Impact, an organization that Swarthmore teams have partnered with as well, to give kids facing life-threatening or chronic illnesses a dose of joy through the power of being matched with a team.
Koch is set to begin at Swarthmore on July 26 and has immediate goals in place for getting connected with the Swarthmore community and for advancing the department.
“Swarthmore has a rich tradition and history with an eye on future change; I look forward to fostering relationships with long-standing alumni and our newest classes to accomplish institutional goals,” he says. “I am impressed with the diversity of thought that permeates throughout Swarthmore’s leadership, and I aim to complement that quality with a pursuit to enhance student academic preparedness, competitive excellence, and sustainable wellness. That is the Swarthmore promise, and I am eager to do my part and contribute.”