The Directors of Athletics Association of New Jersey is the professional organization for New Jersey high school athletic administrators. The DAANJ works closely with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to promote interscholatic athletic programs in the state. Currently there are over 300 active high athletic directors and over 100 retired athletic directors who are registered as members of the DAANJ.
In the DAANJ constitution listed among the purposes of the non-profit corporation are the following:
To support and improve athletic programs in the Schools of the State of New Jersey. To promote a professional relationship among Principals, Superintendents, Board of Education members and Directors of Athletics. To improve and promote mutual understanding and the best working relationships among secondary schools in the State. To promote a program of interscholastic athletics that will be in harmony and contribute to the educational philosophy of the secondary schools in the State.
The Association was started in 1951 and originally called the New Jersey State Directors of Athletics Association or NJSDAA. Virgil Sasso, for whom the DAANJ scholarships are now named, was a key figure in creating this Association. Mr. Sasso was the Athletic Director at Fair Lawn High School and was joined on the first executive committee by the following original members of the Association in 1951; Austin LaPine (President) from Highland Park, Charles Gehrhardt of Snyder, Neil Clark - Newton, David Bewick - Bridgeton, John Schellenger - Manasquan, Paul Eisenberg - Moorestown, John Oakes - Triton and Charles Winters - Livingston.
Due to extensive membership growth the first full day workshops were held at Fair Lawn High School in 1961, 1962 and 1963 during the school's February vacation. It was during these early workshops that two important statements were made regarding the Association and the position of Athletic Director; Frank Pingatore - Red Bank H.S. "The purpose for organizing the Director of Athletics Association was to enable us to exchange information and discuss common problems for the improvement of athletics in the State." Everett Hebel from the State Department of Health and Physical Education stated, "Qualifications for the position need to be scrutinized. A good director should know how to administer, have time to do the job and be given proper remuneration. There should not be a high school in New Jersey that compensates a coach of any sport more than the school's Director of Athletics. The position needs to be certified."
In 1969 the workshop was extended to a two day session and held at Hotel Traymore in Atlantic City. In 1973 a third day was added and the workshop site was Mt. Airy in the Poconos.
The first retirees to be honored were Frank Pingatore of Red Bank H.S. and David Bewick of Bridgeton H.S. in 1969. In many cases, the Association honor dinner was the only recognition received by the retirees.
Today the Association is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of 20 members from the following classes; 13 trustees, one each from the following regions - Bergen County, Burlington/Mercer, Camden/Gloucester, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon/Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth/Ocean, Morris, Passaic, Salem/Cape May/Cumberland, Sussex/Warren and Union. The Executive Director, Executive Director of the NJSIAA, Legal Counsel, four trustees to be retirees who were previously members of the Board.