By Adam Sopris, Assistant Commissioner of the Little East Conference
PAWTUCKET, R.I. - There are many figures in the history of the Little East Conference who have made a tremendous impact upon the direction of the league. There are also numerous figures that have shaped the course of the athletics programs with the work they have done. But few have done both to such a large degree as Al Bean.
Al has been a member of the Southern Maine community since 1974, when he was an undergraduate at the university. During that time, he was a key contributor on the baseball field, tallying six complete games as a starting pitcher during the 1976 season, and 13 during his playing career on the diamond. Bean's 2.65 career ERA still stands as the sixth best mark in Southern Maine program history.
Following his athletic career and graduation in 1977, Bean served in many roles within the Huskies athletic department. He served as an assistant coach on the baseball team, sports information director, and assistant athletic director. Bean became the athletic director of the University of Southern Maine in 1993.
His impact on Southern Maine athletics can be seen across many facets of the athletic culture at the institution. During his time as athletic director, he has spearheaded capital improvements for many of the sports facilities that the teams enjoy to this day. The USM Ice Arena, Costello Fieldhouse, and Hannaford Field have all been constructed during his tenure as athletic director. He was also an advocate for key renovations to the softball and baseball facilities to bring them into the modern era.
Bean has made his mark in his efforts to honor past and present figures in Southern Maine athletics. He was a driving force in the creation of the Husky Heroes program, which highlights past achievers and champions in Southern Maine athletics. He was also a key force in the creation of the Husky Hall of Fame and the implementation of Honors Night to honor graduating seniors. The William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete Awards was created with his backing, which honors student-athletes who maintain a 3.0 GPA during their athletic careers.
Along with his contributions to Southern Maine, Bean has also been a key figure in the development and expansion of the Little East Conference. From 1986-1990 he served as the first publicist for the newly formed conference. His biggest contributions came during his time as Commissioner from 1995-2000. During his tenure the conference experienced one of the biggest expansions of sponsored sports in its history. The Little East grew to include volleyball, softball, baseball, and a men's and women's soccer championship under his tutelage. He also oversaw the addition of member institutions in Western Connecticut State in 1993-94 and Keene State College in 1997-98. With Western Connecticut and Keene State added to the fold, the conference grew to eight teams to solidify the Little East Conference and a premier conference in New England.
Al Bean has been honored with numerous awards from both Southern Maine and the Little East Conference. He was inducted into Southern Maine's Husky Hall of Fame in 1989, and was part of the inaugural Little East Conference Hall of Fame class in 2012. His athletic achievements were honored by the State of Maine in 1997, when he was added into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was named the Division III Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today's 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.