First full-time RIT men’s hockey coach Sullivan succumbs to cancer at 78


Daryl Sullivan, former RIT men’s hockey coach, passed away Sept. 27, 2020 from complications of esophageal cancer.

He was 78.

The native of Potsdam, N.Y., became the first full-time hockey coach in 1968-69, when the campus relocated from downtown Rochester, N.Y. to Henrietta, N.Y.

Graduating from RIT in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Sullivan previously transferred to RIT from Clarkson and played two years for the Tigers. He then assisted part-time coach Jim Heffer for three seasons before becoming head coach.

A dozen years later, he became coordinator of intramurals and continued as an off-ice official at home men’s hockey contests.

His initial season as head coach, Sullivan guided the Tigers to a 17-9-1 record. In seven of his 12 seasons, his teams recorded double digit victories.

In 1972-73 the team became a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III. The league was comprised of East and West divisions.

“Daryl was a memorable and impactful figure here at RIT, and one who helped shape life on campus in many ways, first as a student-athlete, then as a coach and later as an administrator,” said RIT executive director of intercollegiate athletics Louis Spiotti in a statement. “In each and every phase of his career he made this place a better one with his leadership, his caring for students and his knowledge of sport and recreation. He epitomized and modeled the notion of sportsmanship, class and dignity.

“We will benefit from his contributions for many years to come. We extend our condolences to his family and many friends. He will be greatly missed.”

In 1992, Sullivan was inducted into the RIT Sports Hall of Fame.

During his coaching career, Sullivan’s teams won two Finger Lakes Collegiate Hockey League titles, and he is among the winningest coaches in RIT hockey history with 131 victories.

Under Sullivan, the Tigers captured the Monroe County Tournament in 1973-74, and RIT Tournament title in 1976-77.

In ECAC Division III playoff competition, the Tigers played in three championships. In 1979-80, Sullivan’s final season as head coach, RIT advanced to the championship contest, losing to Bentley 7-6 in overtime.

When he retired, he was associate director of Intramurals at RIT. Under Sullivan’s guidance, the program expanded to the point where more than 7,000 students were participating in team and individual activities. That number represented 50 percent of the student population.

During summers, he played and coached softball with a memorable traveling team for Pace Electronics. He was an avid reader and enjoyed contemplating, discussing and sharing shows, movies, and computer games. Sullivan was also a huge New York Yankees fan.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann, and their three sons, Sean, Aaron and Brian, and two grandchildren, Abi and Ray. He is also survived by his sister, Sondra Castle, and nephews John and Christopher and their families.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or a charity of one’s choice.