December 15, 1998
NACDA Announces the John McLendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Awards
Cleveland, Ohio -- The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) has initiated a new postgraduate scholarship program. The John McLendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Awards will be presented to minority senior students who intend to pursue a graduate degree in athletics administration. Each of the 10 annual recipients will receive a $5,000 grant. The program will be administered by the NACDA Foundation.
Nominations will be solicited for the inaugural year of the program, in 1999-2000, with the first recipients receiving their awards at the NACDA Convention, which will be held in Orlando, Florida at DisneyWorld in June 2000.
Among the criteria will be (1) full-time status as a senior at the time of nomination; (2) minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale); (3) official classification as a minority as defined by federal guidelines; (4) intention to attend graduate school to earn a degree in athletics administration; and (5) involvement on the college/university or community level.
Top administrators in the field of athletics will vote upon the finalists, while a panel of leaders in the fields of business, sports, entertainment and politics will select the overall winners.
Initial funding of the program, $250,000, will be generated from proceeds from NACDA=s two preseason games, the Kickoff and Pigskin Classics.
This program is extremely important for NACDA,@ says Jim Livengood, director of athletics at the University of Arizona and NACDA=s president. AAs the professional association for athletics directors, NACDA saw a need to provide scholarship opportunities to students interested in entering this field. Next year, this vision will become a reality. We look forward to the day the recipients of these scholarships will join the ranks of athletics administrators at our member universities."
In addition to the scholarships, one recipient each year will be offered the opportunity to serve a nine-month internship in the NACDA office.
John McLendon, 83, was the first Black coach hired by a predominately White institution when he was selected at Cleveland State University in 1966. CSU President Dr. Harold Enarson, its Board of Trustees and Ohio Governor James Rhodes were seeking to end the practice of coaching exclusion. During McLendon=s three years at CSU, three more Black coaches were hired at similar institutions. Today, there are more than 250 Black coaches at predominately White institutions. McLendon left his coaching post at CSU in 1969, but would later return to the university in 1991 as an athletics department advisor, a position he continues to hold. During this span, McLendon has taught a course on the role of minorities in sports.
All are proud to have John McLendon included in the history and present status of Cleveland State University," says CSU President Dr. Claire Van Ummersen. AJohn is a true pioneer, not only in the sport of basketball, but also for student-athletes from all sports and the Black community at large. It was through John's tireless efforts for equality that Black athletes were integrated into all sports and that Black citizens were not segregated during their participation. We are proud of the role CSU played in this integration and we are even more proud to count John McLendon as a continuing member of our university."
McLendon is the person responsible for the integration of college basketball. Throughout the years, he was the head basketball coach at North Carolina Central College (1940-52), Hampton Institute (1952-54), Tennessee State University (1954-59), Kentucky State University (1963-66) and Cleveland State University (1966-69).
McLendon=s success in the college ranks led him to the professional arena. Cleveland businessman Ed Sweeny, owner of the Cleveland Pipers of the National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL), and team General Manager Mike Cleary, now NACDA=s executive director, hired McLendon as coach of the Pipers in 1959. The NIBL was a high profile company-sponsored league of post college players. Two years later, McLendon led the team to the NIBL championship and the national AAU championship. Sweeny eventually sold the team to George Steinbrenner in what was to become Steinbrenner=s first venture into professional sports ownership. The Pipers became part of the American Basketball League in 1962, making McLendon the first Black professional coach. In addition to his tenure in the NIBL, McLendon was also the head coach of the Denver Rockets (Nuggets) of the American Basketball Association (ABA) in 1969-70.
As successful McLendon has been as a coach, his administrative responsibilities have been equally as impressive. While serving as the basketball coach at North Carolina Central, McLendon was also the athletics director, a post he held for 12 years. At Hampton, he had additional positions as the assistant director of athletics and physical education. At Tennessee
State, McLendon was appointed director of basketball operations from 1954-59 and director of the department of health, physical education, recreation and athletics from 1962-63. However, it was his service on the National Athletic Steering Committee, which McLendon founded in 1949, which had a large impact on the integration of basketball, and eventually, all sports.
The recipient of many honors, McLendon has also been inducted into several Halls of Fame, including the Helms Foundation - Coaches Division (1962), the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1978), the NAIA (1983), North Carolina Central (1984), Tennessee State (1984), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (1986), the state of North Carolina (1996) and the most prestigious of them all -- the Naismith Memorial (1978).
The NACDA Postgraduate Scholarship Award program in my name is of special significance to me because it is an ongoing recognition with continuous opportunity for youth involved in the pursuit of a graduate degree," says McLendon. ATo be in a position to contribute to bringing forward minority candidates of academic achievement prepared to add graduate studies to their development is as honorable an assignment as any ever bestowed upon me. I eagerly look forward to the moment this tremendous award is activated and selected young men and women can embark on a career of a valuable and lasting contribution to sports in America."
The John McLendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Awards Committee, which is a subcommittee of NACDA=s Honors and Awards Committee, will be chaired by Charles Harris, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Says Harris, AThe recognition of the contributions of John McLendon in this meaningful way are long overdue but richly deserved. I am proud to serve as chair of the committee and deeply appreciative of the efforts and vision of NACDA to insure the name and legacy of John McLendon are perpetuated."
The NACDA Foundation, founded in 1982, sponsors internship opportunities for aspiring athletics administrators at NACDA's national office and administers the distribution of NACDA=s scholarship programs. It also provides educational opportunities for NACDA members through a variety of workshops, clinics and seminars. Since 1982, the Foundation has awarded more than $7.6 million in scholarships. Funding for the Foundation comes from the Kickoff Classic and Pigskin Classic, whose proceeds also help fund the National Football Foundation and the American Football Coaches Association. These two games annually generate close to $500,000 in scholarships.