Dan Mara, an award-winning administrator and a hall-of-fame coach, is in his 14th year as Commissioner of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. Mara arrived at the CACC Office in 2006 after 11 years as the Associate Vice President for Athletics and Fitness at CACC-member Post University. He is the third longest tenured commissioner in Division II.
In 2016, Mara was recognized by the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) as the Conference Commissioner of the Year. He was also honored with selection to the 2016 and 2017 Irish Education 100. The honor identified Mara as one of the 100 most influential educators of Irish heritage in the United States.
During his tenure at the CACC, the conference has grown from 12 members to the current 14 members. The CACC trails only the Lone Star State Conference, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, Great Lakes Valley Conference, and the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in number of members.
When he was at Post University, Mara served as Vice President of the CACC Directors Council from 1998 to 2004 and chaired the conference's Ethics and Membership Committees until his appointment as Commissioner. He was a CACC representative to the NCAA Northeast Regional Division II Men's Basketball Committee from 2002-05. During that time, he was heavily involved with the CACC's move to the NCAA. Mara, and Caldwell University Executive Director of Athletics Mark Corino, served as the conference's representatives to the NCAA and the Division II Collegiate Commissioner's Association as the league progressed through the Provisional Conference process. The CACC was elected to Active NCAA Membership in July of 2004.
Mara was the CACC's first representative to serve on the prestigious NCAA Division II Management Council. He represented the conference from 2004-2009. He was the Chairman of the NCAA Division II Convention Planning Team from 2007-2009 and chaired the NCAA Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Committee from 2007-2009. He was a Sportsmanship Committee member from 2005-2009. He was also a member of the Division II Identity Sub-Committee. He served as a member of the Division II Infractions Penalties Sub-Committee as well as the NCAA Life and Work Balance Association-Wide Group. Mara served a four-year term on the NCAA Division II Membership Committee (2010-2014). He was elected Vice Chair of the Committee in 2011 and was Chairman of the Committee from 2012 to 2014. He is the Chair of the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee for 2019-20.
From 2008-2010, Mara was President of the ECAC after serving as Vice President from 2006-2008. He was an ECAC Board of Directors member from 2005 to 2013. In 2007, he chaired the ECAC Commissioner Search Committee, and also chaired the ECAC Strategic Planning, League and Affiliates and Nominating Committees, and was a member of the Marketing Committee. Mara is Second Vice-President of the Division II Collegiate Commissioners Association and will Chair the Association in 2020-21. He has served on a number of D2 CCA Committees.
Mara led the Post University Athletic Department for 11 years (1995-2006), during which he moved the Eagles from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to full membership status in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II. Mara began as Director of Athletics in 1995 and was promoted to Associate Vice President in 2002. During his tenure, the Post athletic program grew from five varsity sports to 12 varsity, two sub-varsity and two club sports. Mara received many honors for his achievements as an athletic administrator at Post. He was named CACC Athletic Administrator of the Year in 1997-98, 2000-2001 and 2005-06, and was named NAIA Region X Athletic Administrator of the Year in 2001. The American Red Cross recognized him with the Good Neighbor Award in 2005.
He started his career in intercollegiate athletics at Mitchell College as sports information director in 1976. Mara was promoted to assistant athletic director in 1978 and his duties included sports information as well as coordinating recruitment for all sports. He began coaching as assistant softball coach and assistant women's basketball coach in 1977. His first head coaching position was as Mitchell's baseball coach in 1979. He became head women's basketball coach in 1984 and also served as head softball coach in 1990 and 1991. During his time as recruiting coordinator, Mitchell teams won five national titles and 40 New England Championships.
Mara coached the Mitchell College women's basketball team for 10 seasons and compiled a career mark of 289-16 (.947 winning percentage). His teams won 10 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) New England titles and reached two National Junior College Athletic Association Final Fours. In five different seasons the Pequots reached number one in the NJCAA National Poll. During his tenure Mitchell established a national record for consecutive regular season victories. The streak, which ultimately reached 234, was at 223 straight when Mara departed Mitchell to become Director of Athletics at Post University. The Pequots fashioned undefeated regular season records in every campaign from 1987-88 until his departure after the 1994-1995 season. The 1994-95 team, which reached the NJCAA Final Four, was inducted in to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
At Mitchell, Mara coached 10 Kodak All-Americans including future WNBA All-Star Rita Williams. Williams went on the University of Connecticut and was the 12th pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft. Williams was one of over a dozen student-athletes to go on to play Division I basketball from the Mitchell Program. The Mitchell women were not just successful on the court, as 98 percent graduated from Mitchell and an equal percentage continued their education at four-year colleges.
Mara is a member of four halls of fame for his basketball accomplishments. He was inducted into the Mitchell College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, the NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 (official CT WBB HOF Bio). He was featured in an article in the March 7, 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated magazine and in the book Basketball for Dummies by Digger Phelps.
He spent 16 years as a director of the highly successful Fundamental Basketball Camp at Mitchell College and served on the staff of the Irish Basketball Association (IBA) Basketball Camp in Dungarvan, Ireland for eight years (1994-2002) working with legendary Irish Coach Fergus Woods.
He was named NJCAA New England Women's Basketball Coach of the Year nine times, Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Coach of the Year six times, NJCAA District Coach of the Year three times and Converse District One Coach of the Year in 1994. He was named CSAC Softball Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1991 for leading Mitchell to the conference championship both seasons. He coached the Post men's basketball team to a fourth place finish in the CACC in his only season, 1996-97.
Mara holds degrees from Mitchell College and Roger Williams University as well as a Graduate Certificate from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He lives with his son Danny (16).