SALISBURY — Before they became a National Football League power couple, Dan and Stacey Quinn were Sea Gulls.
A two-sport Hall of Famer, Dan was a feared defensive lineman for the Football team and a record-breaking thrower for the track and field team. After graduating from then Salisbury State University, he climbed collegiate and professional ranks, holding defensive coaching positions with four NFL teams and leading the Seattle Seahawks defense to a dominating Super Bowl win in 2014. He also was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons for six seasons, leading them to a Super Bowl in 2017. Now, he has returned to his roots as defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
But Dan ’94 and Stacey ’91 have never forgotten the people and programs at their alma mater who meant the most to them. Together, they recently gave $200,000 in support of “We Are SU: The Campaign for Salisbury University.” They created three separate Quinn Family Endowments for: Football Excellence, Track & Field Excellence, and Athletic Training Excellence. They also gave to an existing endowment for the Lamboni Family Scholarship, which benefits students in SU’s College of Health and Human Services. The scholarship honors Pat Lamboni, who recently retired from being SU’s head athletic trainer for nearly four decades.
A native of Morristown, N.J., Dan was a feared defensive lineman on Salisbury’s football field from 1989-93, totaling 145 tackles. As a sophomore, an injury limited him to just one game. But, he was a mainstay for his final three years, playing in all 28 games, with 135 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown. In track & field, he held the university record in the hammer throw (168-8) until 2012. He was inducted to SU’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
“On behalf of our football program, I am extremely appreciative of the sincere and generous gift from Dan and Stacey,” said SU Football Head Coach Sherman Wood. “Their donation will help provide necessary needs for years to come and I’m thankful for them thinking of us!”
“I am still overwhelmed by their generosity,” said SU Track & Field Head Coach Jim Jones. “We have had a great deal of success in track and field at SU, starting in the mid-1970s under Coach Lloyd Sigler and continuing today. Dan and Stacey were part of that success as undergraduates, and I want to thank them for their continued support of our program and institution. I am so excited about what this will allow us to do in the future for our student athletes in the track and field program.”
Dan earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Stacey earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal and professional studies. They met in Lamboni’s training room, where Stacey was a student assistant who worked closely with Dan. Lamboni had a rule against student staffers dating Salisbury athletes, so the couple kept their budding romance hush-hush then, but laugh about it with him now.
“Dan and Stacey Quinn have been tremendous supporters of SU Athletics,” Lamboni said. “I have known both of them since they were undergraduates. What sets them apart is that they are tremendous people with huge hearts, it has been my great pleasure to have them as alumni and friends. I can’t thank them enough for their generosity.”
A career in education is why Quinn came to Salisbury. His passion for teaching, and the qualities that made him a fierce competitor on the field, have served him well in his coaching career. He recalled his memories of being a Sea Gull for an SU Magazine story in 2014.
“For me, when I think back on that time, I think about the people and relationships with guys like Mike Vienna and Pat Lamboni and Robb Disbennett and guys I’ve known for a long time and have had a really big influence on my career,” he said, reflecting on his college mentors, including then football head coach Joe Rotellini.
“I got to watch the coaches (at Salisbury),” he added. “When I first went to college, I thought I wanted to major in education and go back to teach high school, but when I got there, I wanted to follow them and (get into coaching).”
After graduating from SU, Quinn advanced as a defensive line coach at three universities, before bull-rushing his way into the NFL and tackling defensive coaching roles before taking on the head role in Atlanta. Watching his success, Quinn’s former SU coaches have called him “a hard worker and a great leader.”
Off the field, a Quinn family charity supports military families through football. Their gifts to the We Are SU Campaign are not their first for the university over the years.
“We appreciate the ongoing quiet philanthropy of Dan and Stacey Quinn and their recent support of the We Are SU Campaign,” said Jayme Block, SU’s assistant vice president of alumni relations and development. “Sea Gull athletics has a tradition of excellence, and it has been our pleasure to watch not one, but two, Sea Gulls as they have exceled as a family to the highest ranks of coaching excellence. We look forward to cheering them on in Dallas.”
Publicly launched in June 2019, the $75 million We Are SU Campaign is the largest fundraising effort in campus history. Priorities include support for student scholarships and other opportunities. To learn about starting a programmatic or scholarship endowment, supporting any area of the institution, or honoring any individuals, please contact SU Director of Development Amy Luppens at firstname.lastname@example.org.