Rear Admiral Thomas C. Lynch ’64, USN (Ret.), envisioned the Naval Academy with elite coaches and athletes competing in some of the nation’s finest facilities. After all, it was that reputation that sold him on the Academy as a high school football recruit. That wasn’t the reality when Lynch became chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation’s Athletic & Scholarship Programs (A&SP) in 2003. He had seen the deteriorating conditions while serving as the Academy’s 54th Superintendent in the 1990s.

The Academy’s once world-class facilities were aging and surpassed in quality by programs big and small. While Congress will finance the Academy’s moral and mental missions, the physical mission may be easily neglected. Lynch said the secret to elevating collegiate athletic programs is providing quality academics, elite coaches, superior facilities and the athletic resources needed for a quality program. By partnering with Navy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk, Lynch helped transform the Academy’s physical mission offerings from top to bottom.

Between 2013 and 2022, Navy won nine Patriot League Presidents’ Cups, including the past eight. Lynch, who stepped down from his role as A&SP chairman in April, said his tenure has been a labor of love. He deflected credit for the Academy’s physical mission turnaround.

“I knew if I had an opportunity to give back to the Naval Academy for all the things the Academy has done for me, I was willing to step up,” Lynch said. “We’re making a meaningful impact in so many different ways. We’re very proud of what has been accomplished, but it has taken us a while to get where we are today.

“I would not be stepping down if I felt we didn’t have the structure in place. I know the next person who comes in will see things I don’t see and find ways to make our athletic programs even stronger in the future.”

Lynch’s legacy includes upgraded athletic facilities that are among the nation’s finest, first-class coaches for Navy’s 36 varsity sports and continued support for prospective midshipmen to spend a year at one of 16 partner preparatory schools. More than 95 percent of Navy athletics’ annual budget is from external, nongovernmental resources. During the Called to Serve, Daring to Lead campaign, which closed in June 2021, $111 million was raised for the physical mission.

In 2022, A&SP provided almost $4 million in direct support to the Academy’s varsity, club and intramural teams as well as the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, RI. Lynch played a central role in assuring Navy athletics has the resources required to excel.

“Tom’s legacy is ingrained in the fiber of every dimension of success we have realized over the past two capital campaigns,” Gladchuk said. “He has led by example through his personal philanthropy and motivated so many others as a result of his genuine loyalty to the Academy.

“When Tom speaks, people just do it. The physical mission would never have achieved the last 20 years of tangible advancements without Tom Lynch willing us to win, and always expecting those around him to take it to another level. He is one of this institution’s greatest heroes.”

Lynch was captain of the 1963 football team, playing center and inside linebacker for the Navy squad quarterbacked by Roger Staubach ’65. Navy entered the Cotton Bowl ranked No. 2 and facing No. 1 Texas. Although the Longhorns would win what was essentially a home game, Navy finished 9-2 and retained its No. 2 ranking.

Lynch retired in 1995 after 31 years as a Naval officer. Lynch was working in the financial industry in Dallas when he received a course-changing call in the early 2000s. Admiral James L. Holloway III ’43, USN (Ret.), then-chairman and president of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation Inc., was overseeing the reorganization of what is now the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation. He wanted Lynch to run A&SP.

Any effort to decline the invitation would have been futile, Lynch said.
“Admiral Holloway was someone you don’t argue with, you just say ‘Yes sir,’” Lynch said.
The new incarnation of the Foundation—including A&SP—would deliver the necessary resources to provide the Academy with the “Margin of Excellence.” Through alumni community philanthropy, the Foundation would fund the programs and facilities to lift the Academy from good to great.

Stroll the Yard or catch a game at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and it’s easy to spot A&SP’s impact. The results are obvious from the prominent coaches working the sidelines to the athlete support systems (nutrition, academic and strength and conditioning) to modern facilities. Midshipmen athletic success can be traced back to the partnership between A&SP and the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA).

Lynch said the old Foundation was not relevant to the Academy. He wanted the revitalized Foundation to be led by more highly engaged volunteer leaders. At A&SP, that meant raising the number of trustees from 150 to 250 and demanding more of their time, talent and treasure. A&SP also has about 90 trustees in emeritus status.

A&SP Trustees must attend 50 percent of meetings at the Academy and join their local alumni chapter. Ten committies permit active participation of many A&SP Trustees to support the Board’s efforts.

Lynch said the pool of Trustees reflects the demographics of the entire alumni community.
“I’m proud of how diverse we are today,” Lynch said. “We're now a relevant and respected entity within the Brigade of Midshipmen, to the director of athletics, the Foundation, the Superintendent. We are a committed group of men and women who want to achieve our mission of advancing athletics at the Naval Academy. I feel pretty good about what we’ve accomplished.”

Thanks to a united effort and an unrelenting drive, the Alumni Association & Foundation provides midshipmen superior resources following two capital campaigns this millennium.

The first campaign in the early 2000s included a $5 million gift from A&SP to begin transforming Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The stadium, originally built for the 1959 season, underwent a $56 million renovation beginning in 2007. The Leaders to Serve the Nation campaign also included funding for the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility, the complete renovation and expansion of the Robert Crown Sailing Center and a new multipurpose Brigade Sports Center near Greenbury Point, among other significant Margin of Excellence initiatives. The subsequent Called to Serve, Daring to Lead campaign funded a variety of projects including the Gurneé ’61 Golf Performance Center, the Ron Terwilliger ’63 Center for Student-Athletes, the Tom Lynch ’64 Football Wardroom, the Roger Staubach ’65 Football Locker Room, the Captain Owen Thorp ’77 Men’s Lacrosse Wardroom, the Prager Family Squash Facility, Bishop Stadium lights and video board, Halsey Field House renovations, the Dyer Tennis Facility and the Ingram Track resurfacing.
A&SP’s prep school scholarships are fully endowed through alumni community generosity, allowing A&SP leadership to focus fundraising efforts on athletic excellence. That effort is evident in the move of the Academy’s men’s and women’s rugby teams and women’s triathlon team from club to varsity status in the past year. Plans for a best-in-class lacrosse center were announced in January.

Lynch said top-tier student athletes expect—and Naval Academy athletes deserve—facilities that reflect a commitment to a high-caliber physical mission.

“Admiral Lynch embodies the ethos of ‘non sibi sed patriae,’ service before self,” said Byron F. Marchant ’78, who served as president and CEO of the Alumni Association & Foundation from 2009 to 2022. “He has been a resilient advocate through thick and thin for the Naval Academy.

“Admiral Lynch has been the cornerstone of Naval Academy success in the decade-plus I was president and CEO.”
Marchant and Lynch partnered on campaigns and strategic planning that produced record-setting results. Midshipmen have benefited from Lynch’s commitment as he personally led a $100 million effort to raise funds for Navy athletics, Marchant said.
That commitment helped nearly double the initial Fund for Athletic Excellence goal, Marchant said.

Marchant credited Lynch for expanding the demography of alumni interested in the physical mission with men and women of all ages and races. Lynch was an effective conduit for linking eight decades of alumni.

“That did not exist when I first started,” Marchant said. “He’s been an important bridge for multiple generations. He bridged the generational landscape in communicating across decades, better than most volunteer leaders have been able to do.”
Lynch has “leaned in” to ensure the physical mission is equipped for its immediate needs while also eying a sustainable path for athletic excellence, Marchant said.

“As he turns over the Athletic & Scholarship Program to new leadership and the trustees to a new leader, they’re in the best shape they’ve ever been,” Marchant said. “Financially, alumni demographics and NAAA have never been better supported by its alumni than it is today. He helped put Chet Gladchuk and the athletic mission on a map they wouldn’t otherwise be on, frankly.”

Captain George P. Watt Jr. ’73, USNR (Ret.), was a second-class midshipmen and Lynch was a lieutenant commander serving as the Academy’s candidate guidance officer when they first met. Watt was serving as the USNAAA&F president and CEO when Holloway picked Lynch as his successor as chairman of the executive committee of the A&SP Trustees organization.
It was a pivotal time for A&SP, Watt said. For it to survive and become relevant to the Academy, A&SP needed a transformative leader. It found one in Lynch.

“Tom took the baton neatly and for the next 20 years placed the A&SP Trustees on a remarkable trajectory characterized by never-before-seen impact and dramatically increased relevance,” Watt said. “He provided philanthropic leadership by modeling the way with his own generosity and encouraging others to follow. He brought a renewed sense of pride to the entire organization, while growing the previously small and rather insular group into a true representation of Naval Academy alums, parents and friends.”
Lynch’s teammate Roger Staubach ’65 said his longtime friend has always been an inspirational leader. A&SP has benefited from Lynch’s passion and commitment, Staubach said.

“Tom Lynch was a great teammate and friend and still is today,” Staubach said. “His leadership of our ’63 football team was outstanding, and he is still leading our team and keeping us together and in touch with one another.
“He is a born leader and his job as chairman of the A&SP will be yet another portion of the great legacy he leaves the Naval Academy.”
Naval Academy Vice Admiral Superintendent Sean S. Buck ’83, USN, appreciates Lynch’s counsel and dedication to fulfilling the Academy’s mission.

“There are very few of us who have walked in these shoes and served as Superintendent,” Buck said. “With that, there aren’t many people you can turn to for advice. Tom Lynch took me under his wing from day one and has been a great mentor.
I truly appreciate that. He’s a great friend—a friend forever.

“In his nearly two decades as chairman, Rear Admiral Lynch’s leadership has had a tremendous impact on all of our athletic programs at the Naval Academy. Because of his legacy, I have no doubt A&SP will continue to thrive for years to come.”
The Alumni Association & Foundation will be housed under one roof for the first time this summer when the new Fluegel Alumni Center opens. To recognize Admiral Lynch’s contributions, the A&SP suite in the new facility will be named in his honor.

Alumni Association & Foundation President and CEO Jeff Webb ’95 said Lynch will be missed but his legacy will remain.
“We are grateful for Admiral Lynch’s tireless dedication and support of the Naval Academy’s physical mission,” Webb said. “It is fitting that the A&SP suite will be named in his honor given his decades of exemplary service to our enterprise, after his decades of service to our Navy and nation. While his service as A&SP chair is concluding, I look forward to enjoying his company as a passionate alumnus and friend of the Naval Academy for years to come.”

Lynch said he leaves A&SP knowing its future is bright.
“I hope to be remembered as someone who always did the right thing for the Naval Academy and for the program and people I was working with,” said Lynch, who is still executive chairman of the board of advisors at NewDay USA, a mortgage lender that specializes in VA-guaranteed loans. “I wanted it to be better when I left than when I came. It was a privilege to have that opportunity.”