GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Kevin McHugh learned the value of teamwork at an early age.

He grew up in Wharton, Morris County, as the oldest of 10 children.

“I was changing diapers when I was 8 or 9 years old,” McHugh said.

Stockton University named McHugh its new executive director of athletics in May. He started July 1.

McHugh, 61, was the athletic director at Bates College in Maine for 10 years. He has more than 30 years of experience in athletic administration, most notably as athletic director at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.

“I was really impressed that Stockton talks about being centered around liberal arts,” McHugh said. “That’s been fundamental to where I’ve been. I knew about Stockton’s athletic traditions from when I was at (The College of New Jersey) and was certainly attracted by that.”

McHugh wrestled at Morris Hills High School, where he finished fourth in the state individual wrestling championship at 122 pounds in 1974. He wrestled in college at Columbia University and at the age of 40 became a marathon runner.

He’s completed 16 marathons, including the Boston Marathon.

“Kevin McHugh’s extraordinary record of success includes more than two dozen NCAA team championships — the most recent at Bates in women’s rowing — individual national titles for numerous athletes, hosting multiple NCAA championships, taking leadership roles in NCAA governance, and as an outstanding athlete himself,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said in a statement after McHugh’s hire.

McHugh will also serve as part of Stockton’s Presidential Cabinet.

“For athletics being at a cabinet level means the university really values it,” McHugh said. “To have the opportunity to be involved in the greater university management piece was really attractive as well.”

McHugh is currently living in a Stockton dorm while his wife, Bonnie, ties up loose ends at their Maine home.

He’s spent his first few weeks on the job interviewing Stockton coaches and staff and is still feeling his way around the campus. McHugh joked that he’s still learning how to control the temperature in his office on the third floor of the Stockton University Sports Center.

In that office Tuesday, McHugh discussed a number of topics, including future goals for Stockton athletics and exactly what family dinners with 10 children at the table were like.

On becoming Stockton athletic director at this point in the school’s history and development

A lot of things are happening positively. Stockton is in this takeoff mode. Stockton is a place that’s happening. I think (Stockton officials) were paying attention to how athletics can help them get to where they want to be.

What role does athletics play in Stockton becoming more and more of a force in South Jersey?

Stockton is looking to continue to grow and help their enrollment, and athletics is going to be a piece of that. Athletics (provides) opportunities to recruit, engage students and keep students retained. I’ve always believed that if you have a well-run, successful athletic program that helps be a window to the rest of the world about all the other great things that the university is doing.

On his immediate goals for Stockton athletics

That’s kind of evolving as I’m in the throes of meeting with everyone on my staff. But our goal is to be in the top of the (New Jersey Athletic Conference) across the board. We want to look if we have opportunities to grow some programs. I’ve got to come up with some pathways to get there.

What sports could Stockton add?

Stockton owns two golf courses (at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway Township). We don’t have a varsity golf team. That’s something we may want to take a look at. I know this area has significant (interest) in rowing. We have to see if there’s an opportunity for us to do something there.

On improvements to Stockton facilities

We don’t have a locker-room facility at the North Complex (where the baseball, softball, lacrosse and other teams play). We’re not going to get it built this year, but we can figure out a path to get there.

What are the chances of Stockton starting a football program?

I don’t think anything is off the table, but to be honest I don’t think football is anything that’s imminent. Resources are always a question. What would it take to add football? How would you balance the equity piece? If you bring on 75 male athletes, what are you doing to balance it off on the women’s side so you have equal participation opportunities?

On what dinner with 10 children was like at his house

For the longest time, I couldn’t get used to being at dinner with a group of people where something wasn’t spilled. It was a thousand conversations going on. My father was the one who heard everything. We have an incredibly close family.

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I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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