Corbin announces retirement

After seven years and eight months at the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, R. Patrick Corbin is stepping down as executive director.

Corbin, who handed in his resignation at the Nov. 14 NHIAA Executive Council meeting, will continue in his role as executive director for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year. His resignation, which was accepted by the council, will take effect on July 1.

“It’s just been long overdue for me to retire,” Corbin said Saturday while driving from the Concord-Exeter Division I football semifinal to the Division III matchup between Bow and Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough. “The amount of work and increasing difficulties in certain areas of the job made me realize this is the time for me to step down.”

Some of that difficulty was highlighted this fall when parents from Nashua were complaining about a national federation rule regarding sock color for home teams. Despite opposing the rule change three years ago, Corbin and the NHIAA decided to back the rules committee. When October came and players wanted to wear pink socks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NHIAA enforced the ruling and then made a compromise. However, allowing the home team to wear pink socks if the away team agreed to wear white wasn’t good enough for some parents, and they voiced their displeasure with calls – some that Corbin, at the time, called vile and hate-filled.

“I don’t think that created this decision,” he said, “but it certainly validated my thoughts that this was the right time.

“It’s not one issue. Just so many things in general, the enormous turnover of ADs and principals that have to be trained on our policies and don’t share the same philosophy on the importance of athletics in an educational environment. The parents, who feel they are entitled. The motivation for participation overall has changed, and it wears you down.”

NHIAA President Scott Fitzgerald says the resignation caught him off guard, but he supports Corbin’s decision.

“It was sort of surprising,” Fitzgerald said, “but it’s a challenging job. It’s understandable that after a certain amount of time somebody may want to step back and go in a different direction.”

Corbin began his administrative career as a principal at the Woodbury Junior High School in Salem in 1977, then served a two-year stint as principal at Salem High School from 1981-83. After 11 years working in the insurance business, he returned to his post at Salem High School for six years from 1994-2000.

He then accepted the job as principal at Nashua High School and within two years was named the first principal at Nashua High School North, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this school year.

In the position since replacing then 22-year Executive Director James W. Desmarais in April 2006, Corbin has spearheaded multiple changes in the organization.

He is credited with pushing for the addition of more sports, which would help find an outlet for students who may never have previously participated in high school athletics.

During his tenure, the NHIAA added bowling, bass fishing, girls ice hockey and expanded boys volleyball.

“He had such great vision,” Fitzgerald said. “He has this amazing ability to see the big picture. It’s been a benefit to the NHIAA and every student-athlete involved in our programs.”

Corbin’s ability to see that big picture has also enabled the addition of the unified athletic program, which teams up students with and without intellectual disabilities. Those programs are soccer, basketball, outdoor track and volleyball.

“We all have a great relationship with Pat. He’s such an amazing person. To be honest, that’s probably the biggest contribution he made to the organization. He cares about people, especially the kids.

“Those kids are his top priority, always have been in every phase of his career.”

After 50 years of full-time work, Corbin is retiring to play more golf and tennis, plus spend more time with his grandchildren.

“I have enjoyed working with all the people I’ve worked with here,” Corbin said. “We’ve accomplished so much in these eight years and the student athletes of New Hampshire will benefit for years to come.”

A search committee will be formed, and the executive council will begin a national search in the next few weeks to find Corbin’s replacement.