July 11, 2016
CLEVELAND - The Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA) is pleased to announce Darnell Smith, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at the University of Central Oklahoma, as the 2016 Rudy Keeling Scholarship recipient. Smith will receive a $2,500 postgraduate scholarship towards an advanced degree with the intention of furthering his administrative pursuits within the intercollegiate athletics industry. Smith has been accepted into the postgraduate program at the University of Oklahoma.
As the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Commissioner, Rudy Keeling was the first African-American ever to head a major sports conference, a position he held from 2007 until his retirement in January 2013. He was also a former member of the MOAA Board of Directors. Candidates for the scholarship were reviewed by the MOAA leadership and members of the Keeling Family.
"Rudy Keeling was a wonderful leader and trailblazer for both current and aspiring intercollegiate athletics administrators. This Postgraduate Scholarship honors exactly what he stood for and we are excited to present this award to Darnell," said MOAA President Mario Moccia, director of athletics New Mexico State University."
Smith is entering his sixth year at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and manages the areas of NCAA compliance and student-athlete services, along with overseeing the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and directing the student-athlete welfare programming.
Smith came to UCO from the University of New Mexico, where he served as Director of Compliance. In his role with UNM he managed 11 sports by maintaining institutional control in all aspects of compliance.
Prior to his time at New Mexico, Smith served as a Management Development Trainee with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and assisted the Paralympics Committee with community and outreach programs pertaining to Paralympics Military Program, aided the USOC with athlete services and facilities maintenance.
Smith is a member of the National Association of Athletics Compliance (NAAC), National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA). In addition, he was selected as a member of the NCAA Leadership Institute (2015), and the D2 ADA Mentoring program. Smith currently serves on the Division II Ethnic Minority and Women's Internship Grant Committee which seeks to provide funding for entry-level administrative positions at NCAA Division II schools and conference offices to encourage access, recruitment, selection and the long-term success of ethnic minorities and women.
About MOAA: MOAA promotes equitable employment opportunities for minorities in the athletics industry through the exchange of ideas, the creation of networking opportunities and the advocation of an increase in employment for minorities in athletics administration positions at all levels of the sports industry. The Association also promotes cultivating a sports environment that supports the values necessary to accept aspiring professionals from all walks of life. For more information on MOAA, please visit www.moaaweb.com. MOAA is partnered with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 52nd year. For more information on NACDA and the 17 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.