Foundation chair donates $100K to honor late Coach Tony Lisa

Foundation chair donates $100K to honor late Coach Tony Lisa

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Newly appointed Rowan University Foundation Board chair, 1993 graduate and former butterfly stroke standout Jack Hafner has generously gifted $100,000 to honor the late Rowan University swimming and diving coach Anthony (Tony) Lisa.

The funds will be used to establish the Tony J. Lisa Endowment for the Swimming & Diving Program as well as to rename the University Rec Center Pool in Lisa’s memory.

Lisa, 69 (at right), passed away June 16.

A wealth management advisor and professional investor with J.P. Morgan, Hafner has been a member of Rowan University’s Foundation Board since 2012. He credits much of his positive student experience at Rowan to Lisa’s ability to instill a level of confidence in him that inspired him to lead a fulfilling, successful life.

“When you’re 19 or 20 trying to figure out who you are, it can be hard,” Hafner said. “Tony believed in me no matter what and that really helped me believe in myself.”

A Glassboro State College graduate, Lisa retired from the University in 2014 after coaching for 35 years. He finished his career with a combined win-loss record of 469-155-1. He compiled a 265-90-1 mark as the men’s coach in 35 seasons and had a 204-65 women’s record in 26 campaigns.

Lisa’s resume includes recognition on both the Gloucester and Salem county Sports Halls of Fame. He was a recipient of the Richard E. Steadman Award from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, was an assistant coach for the World Swimming All-Stars team and was an assistant coach at West Point Military Academy.

Despite all that, he is largely remembered for his unwavering belief in, and overwhelming support of, his Rowan athletes, in and out of the pool.

“A good coach isn’t just a coach,” said Connie Lisa, Tony’s wife. “A good coach shares in their athletes’ lives and becomes family.”

Hafner’s gift will commemorate Lisa’s legacy among decades of former Rowan swimmers and divers while establishing an endowment to support future generations of athletes.

“Jack Hafner’s gift to name the University Rec Center pool in memory of Coach Tony Lisa is a tremendous honor to a coach who meant so much to so many student-athletes,” said Rowan Athletic Director Dan Gilmore.

“Tony was a born coach and motivator,” said Hafner (below). “I want to be a part of the University’s momentum and making a gift like this in his honor means a lot to me.”

Said Connie Lisa: “Tony had a lot to give to the world. I remember Jack’s name, and I’m so thrilled that he’s chosen to keep my husband’s memory alive.”

Rowan’s Athletics Department will host a ceremony Saturday, Jan. 26, to officially rename the university pool and to recognize Coach Lisa’s career.

For further inquiries, please email Sue Murphy at murphys@rowan.edu.