John Sutyak '00 was named Wheaton College's director of athletics and recreation in April 2012 after serving as the department's interim director of athletics since June 2011. He oversees a highly competitive department that includes 21 men's and women's varsity programs, 14 club sports programs, intramural sports, and general student, staff and faculty recreation. He is the second director of athletics during the college's coeducational era, which began in 1988.
"Serving my alma mater is a dream come true for me,” says Sutyak. “Having the privilege to obtain my degree and now work here is an honor that I do not take lightly. I am very excited to continue working with and being a part of the Wheaton community. We will continue to work with the faculty and staff to enhance the Wheaton educational experience, with the goal to continually work to provide an environment where our student-athletes can thrive in the classroom, in the community, and in their respective sports at the highest level. I want our students to receive the same outstanding student-athlete experience that I had here at Wheaton."
Since taking over as the director, Wheaton athletics has continued to evolve and grow. Sutyak played a part in the development and construction of the $3.8 million Diane C. Nordin ’80 Athletic Field, the first artificial surface in Wheaton’s history. He led Wheaton through its inaugural athletics Hall of Fame class in 2013, serving as chair of the Hall of Fame committee and spearheading the planning and execution of the event. Sutyak was instrumental in the rebranding of Wheaton’s athletics logo and wordmark in 2013, continuing its partnership with Nike as its official uniform and practice gear vendor and in adding a full-service online team store, wheatonlyonsgear.com, to serve students, alumane/i, family and friends of Wheaton athletics in the fall of 2014. Under his leadership, the department has experienced its highest level of giving through the Lyons Athletic Club (LAC), increasing donations to the department in each of the three years he has been in charge, as well as the continued increase in dollars and numbers for the annual Lyons Athletic Club Golf Tournament each August.
On the field, Wheaton teams have qualified for NCAA championship events 16 times, highlighted by baseball’s run to the national championship game in 2012, a 4th place finish by the women’s indoor track and field team in 2014, three additional top-10 finishes by the women’s track & field program and a regional championship by softball in 2015. 4 teams have secured ECAC championships and the Lyons have won 15 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season and conference titles in his tenure. All told, Wheaton student-athletes have been named all-Americans 65 times, with five student-athletes being named academic all-American. Wheaton has also won 5 NEWMAC sportsmanship awards during Sutyak’s time as AD, 3 in baseball, 1 in men’s basketball and 1 in women’s lacrosse. Off the field, Wheaton has received the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA)/Jostens Community Service Honorable Mention Award in the category of ‘On-Going Project’ at the NCAA Convention three times (2012, 2014, 2015) and the women’s basketball program has been honored by the NCAA Division III as its spotlight poll winner in each of the past three academic years.
Hired in 2006 as the college’s assistant director of athletics, Sutyak also served as the associate director of athletics before assuming the interim athletic director post in 2011. As an interim director of athletics, he oversaw the renovation of the Tokarz Team Room into a varsity weight room, helped to secure a licensing agreement with the Licensing Resource Group (LRG) for the college’s logos and marks and hired seven full-time athletics staff members.
Sutyak has been highly involved on campus over his 9 years at Wheaton. He served on a number of committees during his time back in Norton, notably the President’s Athletics Review Task Force during the 2010-11 academic year, as well as Wheaton’s Homecoming Committee and the inaugural Yellow Wood Commission alcohol task force. Upon his arrival, Sutyak was instrumental in the implementation of the LAC and was a standing member of the “Sweats to Suits” program, helping senior students prepare for their transition into life after Wheaton. Currently he sits on the Council for Inclusive Diversity (CID), as well as Wheaton’s Senior Managers Planning Committee, First-Year Experience committee and as the chair of Wheaton’s Yowell Athletic Hall of Fame committee.
Outside of Wheaton, Sutyak is entering the third, of a six-year stint, on the NEWMAC Executive Committee and will begin a two-year tenure as NEWMAC President in 2015-16, giving him the distinction of being the first NEWMAC President that also competed as a NEWMAC student-athlete. From 2009-2012, Sutyak was on the NCAA Division III softball championship committee, serving as the New England chair. He has also served the NEWMAC as the tape exchange committee chair, the playing & practice season committee chair, as a member of the NEWMAC championships, officiating, and scheduling committees, and as the league's men's and women's track & field and women’s basketball liaison. Sutyak previously was involved with the NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service Award Selection Committee.
Sutyak worked in a dual role as Wheaton’s assistant sports information director and an area coordinator in the Residential Life Office during the 2002-03 academic year after earning his master's degree from Springfield College in 2002. He served as an assistant baseball coach at Western New England University during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, where he played a part in the team’s first GNAC championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2001. He also served in different capacities on Yale University's athletics administrative team from 2003-06 as he assisted with varsity sports operations, athletic facilities supervision, and as game operations coordinator for multiple sports. Sutyak was involved with the Bulldogs as they hosted NCAA championship events in fencing, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball during his time in New Haven. In addition, Sutyak has worked for the National Football League (NFL) serving as a member of its Player Participation Crew during New England Patriots home games since 2005.
A Scarborough, Maine native, Sutyak was a two-sport athlete (baseball and basketball) at Scarborough High School. He was a three-time all-Western Maine Conference baseball player and was a finalist for the 1996 Maine Mr. Baseball Award (now known as the Dr. John Winkin award). A 2000 Wheaton graduate and former four-year baseball player with the Lyons, he was a member of Wheaton’s first varsity baseball team in 1997, the program's first two NEWMAC championship teams in 1999 and 2000, and a part of its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2000. He also tied the NCAA record for home runs in one inning with two against the University of Southern Maine in 1998.