Frank Mach obituary.

Former Athletic Director Francis ‘Frank’ Mach ’55 Passes Away at 90

Francis ‘Frank’ Mach ’55, a Tommie Award winner, 25-year athletic director, St. Thomas Athletics Hall of Fame member and faculty member, died on March 18. He was 90 years old.

Francis ‘Frank’ Mach ’55

Mach was a Tommie All-American football player in the 1950s who returned to St. Thomas as athletic director in 1968.

According to a fall 2003 article in St. Thomas magazine by former Sports Information Director Gene McGivern, Mach was a catalyst for dramatic growth and improvement in the St. Thomas athletics program. The program’s national affiliation changed from NAIA to NCAA Division III during Mach’s time as athletic director.

“Mach oversaw the creation of women’s varsity teams after women were admitted as students in 1977. Under the leadership of Mach and his successor, Steve Fritz, the St. Thomas athletic program exploded in the 1980s and 1990s. The Tommies won nine national team titles from 1981-91, including five in women’s cross country, two in men’s cross country and one each in men’s indoor track and in women’s basketball. St. Thomas dominated the MIAC all-sport championships, too, with 11 consecutive men’s and women’s titles from 1986-96,” McGivern wrote.

“I definitely wanted the sports program to be something we could be proud of,” Mach was quoted as saying in the article.

Mach also was the athletic director when Title IX, the landmark gender equity legislation of 1972, was implemented.

JoAnn Andregg, former associate athletic director, volleyball coach and tennis coach, was quoted in an article by McGivern in the winter 2003 issue of St. Thomas magazine about the impact of Mach and several men’s coaches.

“Frank was way ahead of his time,” Andregg said. “We could have put women’s athletics on the periphery and made it a glorified intramural program. But Frank was a competitive guy and he wanted to get the best coaches and have the best program, so we came in as full-fledged members right away. Men’s coaches, like Larry Russ in cross country and Joe Flood in golf, were asked to take the women’s teams under their wing, and both of them said yes. We were treated as equals right away, and that set the tone.”

In his obituary, Mach was quoted as saying regarding his multiple leadership roles at St. Thomas, “My most gratifying accomplishment was playing a significant role in reestablishing the men’s athletic program to prominence in the MIAC, and the rare opportunity to start an athletics program for women and watch it prosper.”

Mach is survived by his wife, Phyllis; children Mary, Teri Ryan, Diane and Tom; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Services already have been held.