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Gene DeFilippo has always been a guy drawn to the spotlight, a lightning rod for the activity around him.

He likes the limelight, embraces it, knows how to play the game as well as anyone.

He was that way more than 50 years ago when he was the quarterback for Springfield (Ma.) College.

He was that way when he began his career in college athletic admission, testing all the waters from coach to athletic director, a move which brought him to his last spotlight dance job as the athletic director at Boston College.

At one time, he was widely-regarded throughout the industry on fast track as the next Big East commissioner when that league was flourishing in both college basketball AND college football, with a very strong future.

But that run ended 10 years ago.

You don't see DeFilippo's name in many stories, see him quoted even less.

That is by design and covered with more than a touch of irony since now, as moves into his 70s when most careers are winding down,  Gene D may have more influence over the world of college athletics than he ever has.

DeFilippo is senior executive a Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, a growing sports search form which he created 9 years ago when he retired as the AD at BC.

He is also a consultant/executive/force at Vivature Sports, a Dallas based firm which specializes in preparing college athletic departments navigate through the major changes which are engulfing and sometimes overwhelming the landscape.

The latest jolt came on Thursday with reports that USC and UCLA could be bolting to the Big 10, perhaps as soon as 2024.

Turn Key has taken a Forrest Gump profile in college athletics shifts in leadership, with its clients--and DeFilippo's influence--situated in positions of power throughout the country.

The latest--and perhaps most surprising--was when the Big 12 hired Brett Yormak--a Turn Key candidate-as its new commissioner.

The commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Jim Phillips, is a Turn Key guy.

Athletic officials at Power 5 schools such as USC, Michigan, Nebraska, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida--all Turnkey clients.

The finger prints are everywhere, all with a linkage to DeFilippo.

Again, irony is on display because DeFilippo is in a job where he openly talks about NOT returning calls from the media for a very simple reason.

""I work for clients who do not want their names out there,'' he said in a podcast. ""I don't work for the media. I don't return any calls.''

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This from someone, who as an athletic director returned media calls even when no message was left.

I know, I covered every bit of DeFilippo's career as AD at BC from when he was hired in 1997 until his retirement in 2013.

   DeFilippo came to BC from Villanova for one primary reason, he wanted to be an AD at Power 5 conference school in football, something which Villanova was not.

DeFilippo's power and influence at BC was quickly evident as BC became part of the first wave of schools that flirted--and eventually went to the Atlantic Coast Conference, which started the collapse of Big East football.

It was also DeFilippo who was a prime force in the University of Connecticut NOT getting an invitation into the ACC, with BC arguing to the ACC that one New England team was more than enough.

DeFilippo did a lot of great things at BC to help the Eagles become a relevant force.

He was also an excellent source of information about the world of not only the Big East,the ACC and college sports.

But that ended a decade ago when I did a story about the ACC's quest to re-emerge as a basketball power and establish itself as a football power, neither which was guaranteed at the time.

DeFilippo, candid and helpful as usual,  explained it in a simple statement. ""ESPN tells us what to do'' he said, on the record and on tape, although he later disputed that when both ESPN and the ACC strongly disagreed, so much so that DeFilippo was forced to issue a public apology--for telling the truth.

DeFilippo has not talked  to me for more than a decade, which is an unfortunate consequence of doing business.

As influential and powerful he was as an AD, he had flaws, perhaps fatal as an administrator--he made bad decisions regarding some of his coaches.

The blemish against DeFilippo is that football coach Tom O'Brien, men's basketball coach Al Skinner and women's basketball coach Cathy Inglese, arguably regarded as the best coaches in their sport in BC history, were fired or were prompted to leave because of conflicts with DeFilippo.

Still, under DeFilippo's watch, BC was relevant in the primary revenue sports.

And since DeFilippo left in the fall of 2013, BC hasn't been close to being relevant in any of them.

 A series of administrative missteps which must also include the overwhelming and sometimes suffocating influence of BC President Father William Leahy has led to four different athletic directors and 6 different football and basketball  coaches at BC in the past 9 seasons.   

DeFilippo, however, has thrived in his second career, re-establishing his bases, working the back alleys of college athletics as well as main corridors with the enthusiasm of a Boston  politician.

It could be argued that Gene DeFilippo's time in college athletics has come--and passed, if not passing.

If however, you look at the current landscape  and its unfamiliar and  uncomfortable future,   and you see the decisions being  made and the people being hired, you could just as easily suggest that DeFilippo's has never been higher, even if most  people don't remember or recognize his name.