NACDA Convention Features James Carville; Judy Sweet Winning Corbett Award|
June 21, 2006
New Orleans, Louisiana - The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) kicked off its 41st Annual Convention earlier today, attracting close to 2,000 administrators.
The Keynote Session featured political consultant and commentator James Carville who likened the business of politics to that of athletics. "One of the things that I like about (politics) is, at the end of the day, you know what the score is," said Carville. "You walk away and there's a winner. Politicians and athletes do something else - they dare to fail publicly."
Carville went on to add, "College athletics offers a form of purity that life does not. There's a form of pride that means something. It matters for a deeper and more profound reason."
Carville concluded by offering his admiration of those in the athletics administration profession. "For all of the disappointments and all of the naysayers out there," he stated, "you need to understand that what you do is very important. You strive to give people a sense of purity and competition that is difficult for them to get in other endeavors."
One agenda topic inspired by the New Orleans setting for the meetings was a session entitled "Planning for the Next Natural Disaster." Attendees listened to the perspectives of Mike Womack, deputy director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, and Rick Mello, athletics director at Florida International University.
Womack told listeners, "When I began thinking of all the potential catastrophic events that could happen at an athletics event, we all know that the greatest potential for a catastrophic event at an athletic event is not related to terrorism, it could be a natural disaster."
While sharing slides of both before and after photos, as well as post-hurricane damage, Womack emphasized the need for strong leadership at all levels, an awareness of the search and rescue capabilities at the local and school level and a plan for large-scale staging areas.
While an administrator in various capacities in college athletics, Mello has been involved in earthquakes, mudslides and hurricanes. He emphatically stressed the need for a firm disaster plan with clearly-defined rules of engagement and communication. "One of the biggest mistakes, especially in the recovery period from a natural disaster, is deviation from the plan. Your staff and students will feed off the tone you set."
Mello went on to advise attendees to have a plan to be 100 percent self-sufficient and to have a staff well-versed in and comfortable with the plan. "You will be most judged at a time of adversity," he cautioned. He also pointed out many ways that athletics will face such a crisis differently, such as meeting the nutrition needs of its student-athletes
The Wednesday luncheon featured the presentation of the James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor one can achieve for athletics administration, to Judy Sweet, senior vice president - championships and education services at the NCAA and former director of athletics at the University of California San Diego.
In accepting, Sweet said, "Thank you for including me in the distinguished list of honorees. I am truly honored and humbled. There are so many people that I would like to thank - teammates from the NCAA, UC San Diego, NACWAA and NACDA, and all of them are cherished friends."
Sweet also expressed appreciation to NACDA for following through on its plan to meet in New Orleans. "Thank you to the NACDA Executive Committee for supporting the re-New Orleans," she said. "Persistence, dedication, teamwork...no better has that been demonstrated than in the city of New Orleans."
Reflecting on her position as one of the pioneering women in college athletics administration, Sweet wondered, "Who would have thought that a tomboy from Wisconsin who loved sports all her life... could have such an invigorating and meaningful career in athletics administration? Thanks to those who encouraged me to pass through those doors that had not previously been open to women."
In concluding, Sweet said, "This award represents, to me, the true value of teamwork, educating and mentoring others. The importance of being inclusive. Opening doors for others and maximizing opportunities for all in a truly great profession. Sports have no boundaries and we are all so fortunate to be part of a profession that speaks that universal language."
Also presented at the luncheon was the NACDA/NIT Athletics Directors Award, to Jack Powers, former executive director of the National Invitation Tournament; the SportsBusiness Journal Athletics Director of the Year Award to Jeremy Foley, director of athletics at the University of Florida; the Coca-Cola Community All-American Awards; and the GeneralSports TURF Systems AD of the Year Awards. Serving as luncheon emcee was Chris Spielman of ESPN.
The James J. Corbett Memorial Award is presented annually to the athletics administrator who
through the years has most typified Corbett's devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment." Corbett, former athletics director at Louisiana State University, was NACDA's first president in 1965.
The NACDA/NIT Award is presented to an athletics administrator who has made significant contributions to basketball and the National Invitation Tournament.
This is the third year of the Coca-Cola Community All-American Awards. The program is designed to help institutions recognize, celebrate and applaud student-athletes who are making a difference in their communities. The program honors seven student-athletes, one from each of the following categories, NCAA Division I-A, I-AA, I-AAA, II, III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. Winners of the 2005-06 Coca-Cola Community All-American Awards were:
Coca-Cola Community All-American Awards were also presented to students at each of the New Orleans colleges and universities. Those winners were:
The GeneralSports TURF Systems AD of the Year Award is in its eighth year. The program was created to highlight the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to campuses and their surrounding communities. The program honors 28 regional winners and one international winner.
Winners of the 2005-06 GeneralSports TURF Systems AD of the Year Award were:
The Convention continues on Thursday with the presentation of the U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cups.