ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —  After serving 41 years as RIT’s athletic director, Lou Spiotti has decided to retire following the 2021 spring semester.

Spiotti began his career at RIT in 1974, first as a football coach and later taking the reigns of the athletic department.

As the nation’s longest tenured athletic director, Spiotti has a long list of accomplishments, including 41 conference championships in the last 20 years, three Division II and III national titles, upgraded athletic facilities, expanded from 15 athletic programs to 24, and so much more.

The RIT ice hockey teams rose to Division I status under Spiotti’s watch. The men’s program made the jump in 2005 and played in the Frozen Four five years later. The women’s program followed in 2013.

“It was an opportunity to fill a niche in the community, certainly on our campus,” Spiotti said. “We arguably we have some of the best college hockey fans in the nation. It’s taken the spirit and the camaraderie amongst our students and faculty and staff and alumni to a whole different level.”

Though he is proud of the Division I expansion, one of Spiotti’s fondest moments during his time at RIT came well before that: the “unexpected” 1983 men’s ice hockey DII national championship.

“I had only been in the job a few years and I had just hired a new coach Brian Mason, and we were trying to up our hockey program,” said Spiotti. “We had plans, but it came so quickly. It took my breath away. No one expected us to do it, but I think it was a defining moment for our athletics program.”

It may have been a turning point for RIT Athletics, but the legacy Spiotti hopes to leave behind was developing an unparalleled culture for student athletes.

“I think myself,  my coaches, my staff, and everyone around us worked to instill a culture of integrity, of character, of class,” said Spiotti. “I think more than anything we want to win, but more than that, doing it right is more important to us than anything else.”