Sports

Dick Neal, MIAA executive director, to retire

In an announcement posted Thursday on the MIAA’s website, Dick Neal summed up feelings shared by many approaching retirement.

“Until recently, I assumed that I would work until I died,’’ said Neal, 68, who for 34 years was the executive director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association as well as the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association.

But that changed in the past year as Neal began what was at first a casual conversation with his wife, Kris, and their children. What began around the dinner table turned into a formal announcement this week.

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“Within the past year, and I think for the first time in my life, I raised with my family the notion of retirement,’’ said Neal. “My wife and children simply scoffed at the notion, knowing that to some extent, all I did was work. During the ensuing months the topic was simply the subject of occasional light banter. This fall, my wife began to offer support for the notion. She and our children were recognizing that it might be time to step away.’’

The timing of Neal’s departure is uncertain, as was the timing of his retirement announcement. Neal said his first reaction was to wait until after the first of the year, when the budget process will begin for the 2014 fiscal year. But that meant the news would come after meetings of the personnel and finance committees. That realization moved up the announcement. As for his final day in Franklin, Neal will leave that in the hands of others.

“I leave it to the association’s finance/personnel committee members and governing boards as to when the break should best occur,’’ said Neal. “I will be open to assist or support this effort, but will try to be careful to do only that which is requested of me.’’

Neal’s retirement means the MIAA will have lost its top two leaders in a short period. Deputy director Bill Gaine retired in June.

“I have advised others over the years that it is better to retire too early than too late,’’ Neal concluded. “I hope this decision of mine is not met by very many with the thought, ‘This should have happened years ago!’ ”

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