Dr. Bridget Niland

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When Bridget Niland stepped on the track at Williamsville South High School, it began an athletic career that spans decades.

Niland went on to compete for the University of Buffalo, where she played an early role in the Bull’s run to Division I. At UB, she broke school records, won individual conference championships, and captained the conference championship track and cross-country teams. Perhaps Niland’s biggest impact as a student-athlete was being an early voice for student-athlete equity and sensible NCAA rules. Bridget chaired the NCAA’s National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was the first student-athlete appointed to the NCAA’s Division I Management Council.

Bridget continued hitting the pavement as an elite runner after college, winning the Buffalo Marathon back-to-back in 1997 and 1998 and gaining a top-5 finish at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. She is a three-time winner of Buffalo’s Chase Corporate Challenge and was the Buffalo News Runner of the Year in 1999, earning the same honor from the DC Road Runners in 2001.

After attorney positions with the U.S. Justice Department, Bridget joined the NCAA’s national office staff, ascending to various management roles within the academic and legislative affairs unit. Returning to Buffalo, she became a tenured sport management professor and published author at Daemen College, eventually leading its transition to the school’s NCAA Division II membership. As Daemen’s director of athletics, Niland created its nationally recognized Center for Allied Unified Sports and Exercise or CAUSE. She also chaired the Buffalo Sports Commission, attracting several conference and NCAA championship events to WNY.

A longtime advocate for equity and access to youth sports, Bridget was the inaugural Director of Project Play WNY, an initiative of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. Currently, she is the dean of Niagara University’s College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management.

Bridget was inducted into the UB Athletics and WNY Running Halls of Fame and is a member of the Williamsville Central Schools Wall of Fame.