Feb. 9, 2011
Name: David Thurkill
Current Position & Employer: Assistant Athletic Director/Senior Compliance Officer, Lincoln University-Missouri
Number of years in current position: 2
Why/when did you decide to pursue a career in college athletics?
As a former student athlete at Morehead State University in Kentucky and after spending a short time playing professional football in the late 80's, I knew college athletics was my passion. At that time, I pursued a Masters in Sports Administration at Seattle Pacific University to further my vocational goals.
What was your path to your current position?
The path to my current position was somewhat circuitous. After graduate school, I worked at the University of Oregon as the recruiting coordinator for all sports. Then, I had the opportunity to work as a legislative assistant at the NCAA National Office. Following this, my career path took a turn and I worked in federal government and later city government in Seattle, Washington. During this time, I continued to stay connected to college athletics by teaching graduate level courses with Dr. Dan Tripps, Director and Professor-Center for the Study of Sport and Exercise and Director of the Master in Sport Administration and Leadership Program at Seattle University. Over time, I missed being connected to athletics on a daily basis and working with student athletes. So when the opportunity presented itself to work at Lincoln University-Missouri, I pursued it whole-heartedly. I knew Dr. James Frank; former NCAA President had also been a former president of Lincoln University.
In your mind, who do you consider to be a good role model for minority administrators and why?
Currently, Dr. Carolyn R. Mahoney presides as Lincoln's President and serves as an excellent role model for minorities. She is forward thinking, a thoughtful listener, keen observer, and methodical problem-solver. Additional positive role models and mentors in my career have included: Dr. Milt Davis, a pioneer in the progress of minorities in athletics who I met when he was a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers; Ron Stratten, owner of Stratten Solutions Consulting who I worked with when he was Vice President for Educational Services at the NCAA; Mel Dodd, owner of Dodd Consulting in Seattle who I worked with when he was an NCAA Enforcement Representative; Robert Minnix, Senior Associate Athletic Director at Washington State University when he was Director of Enforcement at the NCAA; Stan Wilcox, Deputy Director of Athletics at Duke University when we were legislative assistants together at the NCAA, and Clint Bryant, Director of Athletics at Augusta State University. Although the list is long, all of these men possess the qualities necessary to be successful in the profession. These include: their ability to attend to details, think critically, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others. Each one of them defines leadership.
What do you feel is the most important quality for those early in the profession to possess?
Based on the response to the above question, I would recommend surrounding yourself with quality people.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Act with integrity.
What advice would you give to young minority individuals who are looking to venture into athletics?
I would advise young minority individuals who are looking to venture in to athletics to get as much experience as possible through internships or the shadowing of individuals you admire. Establish a support network and ask questions that will enable you to accomplish your goals.
How do you maintain balance between your professional and personal life?
Maintaining balance between your professional and personal life is a challenge. You must be flexible and mobile. If athletics is your passion, you should be prepared to move or be relocated where the opportunity presents itself. Because of this, it is important to try and make relationships a priority.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge to working in college athletics?
The biggest challenge is figuring out what your school's biggest challenge is based on your student demographics, budget, geographical location, conference membership, etc. Each school is unique and has its own set of challenges.
What is your favorite memory from your job, or project you are most proud of?
Overall, seeing the progress made in the athletic programs at Lincoln as we rejoin the MIAA Conference and seek to become more competitive is something of which I am very proud. Our track program has won the NCAA Division II National Championship ten times and I hope some day our other programs will be as competitive.
Who are the people who have influenced you the most?
See role model question above.
What are your career aspirations?
Although my career path has taken many turns, I hope I am back in college athletics for good. I look forward to seeing where this path leads and hope to make a positive contribution wherever I am.
How important do you feel your involvement is with MOAA in terms of continuing to grow your career?
I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved with MOAA. It is an important organization in assisting minorities in college athletics to reach their career goals. All of the advice I recommended to young minority individuals can be better taken and achieved through the support of MOAA and for those of us who have been around a while, MOAA serves to keep us connected and thinking about how we can further the progress of minorities.
About David Thurkill:
David Thurkill joins the Lincoln University Athletic Department as the Assistant AD for Compliance. David works closely with the coaching staff and student-athletes by helping them in the areas of recruiting, eligibility, and other matters of the NCAA bylaws.
David originally hails from Cincinnati, OH. He attended Archbishop Moeller High School where he was a three sport letterman. David continued his education and football career at Morehead State University where he received his Bachelors degree. David went on to play half a season of football with the USFL's Pittsburgh Maulers in the spring of '84 and the preseason of 1985 with the Buffalo Bills.
After his playing career, David went on to receive his Masters degree in Athletic Administration from Seattle Pacific University. He worked as a Recruiting Coordinator/Compliance Officer at the University of Oregon for all sports, before being hired as a NCAA Legislative Analyst in Overland Park, KS from 1994-1997. David also served as an Adjunct Professor for Seattle University, where he taught graduate sport management courses in the Masters Sport Management program during the academic year.