PAWTUCKET, R.I. – On June 5, 1985, after several exploratory meetings the previous year, Plymouth State College (now Plymouth State University) Athletics Director John P. Clark invited eight New England institutions to further explore the concept of a single-sport basketball conference. The meetings resulted in the creation of the Little East Conference, which officially began as a men’s and women’s basketball conference on April 28, 1986.
Clark is one of the founding fathers of the Little East Conference and was the driving force behind the birth of the conference. Clark organized a couple informational meetings to determine if enough interest existed to form a men’s and women’s basketball conference. The meetings were followed up with the organization’s final meeting at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) fall meeting in September 30, 1985 where the original six members agreed to accept the invitation to join the Little East Conference.
Clark was instrumental over the 30 years with the Little East as he continued to shape the conference through the creation of the conference schedules for the 19-sponsored sports. Clark also served as the Chair of the Little East Athletic Directors Council from 2012-2014.
Clark has been a part of the Plymouth State community since arriving as a freshman in 1967. The long-time Panther was named the Athletics Director from 1980-1985 which was highlighted by the outstanding success the soccer and football programs had during that period.
After spending 16 years as a member of the Plymouth State President’s Cabinet, Clark returned to his role as the Athletics Director in 2001 and remained in the role until he stepped down in 2015 to manage the ALLWell North building. The newest facility, ALLWell North, includes the state-of-the-art George Davis indoor track facility which has hosted the Little East Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship in 2016.
During Clark’s tenue at Plymouth State, he helped grow women’s sports with the addition of several varsity programs, including swimming and diving, volleyball, ice hockey and cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field.
Clark has left his mark on the Plymouth State campus as he was an advocate to convert streets into pedestrian walkways with flowers, trees and other landscaping. He planned and orchestrated the PSU Athletic Field Complex in the 1980s, which included new facilities and upgraded amenities for football, soccer, lacrosse and baseball teams. Clark was also instrumental in planning and developing the entire Plymouth State campus, which involved upgrades to the science building, library, the Student Union, Center for the Arts and the residential buildings.
Clark not only gave back to Plymouth State, but he is an active member in the community still. The longtime resident of Plymouth, Clark has been involved in numerous civic activities, including positions with the Speare Memorial Hospital, Plymouth Rotary Club, Pease Public Library and many more youth sports organizations like American Legion and Babe Ruth Baseball.
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.