Nov. 20, 2017
Karl Benson - Sun Belt Conference
Why did you join MOAA?
Long time NCAA staffer Stanley Johnson encouraged me to serve on the McLendon Scholarship Board of Directors back in the mid 90's. During that time I had the privilege and honor to meet Coach McLendon and since then I have always been a strong supporter of MOAA.
Name something about you most people don't know.
While a young aspiring college baseball coach at Fort Steilacoom CC in Tacoma, WA I had a fascinating hobby that all of my peers who wanted to make it to the Big Leagues but never did would have died for. From 1978-85 I was a batting practice pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. I put on an M's uniform 50 or so nights a year, had my own locker in a Big League clubhouse, and parked my car in the "players only" parking lot at the old Kingdome in Seattle. I got paid $25 per game and all the game tickets I needed for family and friends. Yes it was like a dream come true.
If you hadn't chosen a profession in athletics, what would your profession be?
I had several majors in college - business, pre-law, political science and social work - before deciding I wanted to do something that involved what I really loved and that was the sport of baseball. That led me into coaching, which led me into athletics administration that I have now done for 40 years.
What is one of the greatest aspects of being involved in athletics?
Getting paid to go to work and to be involved with what most people pay to watch! My mother when she was alive would say when her friends would ask her: so just what does your son do? "I am not sure but he goes to a lot of football games and he always has good seats!"
What is the theme song playing in your head when you have to get something tough done?
No not Rocky... and this really dates me: Ain't No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross and the Supremes - 1970 (the year I graduated from high school).
If you could spend one day with a sports figure, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
Mohammed Ali. While in 6th grade in 1964, I wagered 25 cents with one of my brothers that Cassius Clay would be beat Sonny Listen. And then listened on the radio as he did just what he said he would do. And I became a fan of the underdog that day and still am. I met Ali in person 20 years later while he was sitting by himself in the Salt Lake City airport. I finally got up the courage to ask him for his autograph - darn, no cell phones back then for a selfie with him - but it is one of the few autographs that I have saved.
What is your favorite movie? Why?
Can't pick just one - funniest: It's a Mad Mad Mad World, scariest: Wait Until Dark, thrill-iest: French Connection
What is the last thing someone has come back and thanked you for professionally?
One of my former college baseball players from 1978 recently wrote me to thank me for giving him a chance to play college baseball that then allowed him to graduate from college. And without that college degree, he says he would have ended up working in the mill in his hometown in Grangeville, Idaho rather than teaching and coaching for 35 years at the high school he attended.
Best thing your mentor told you?
Ned Alger - longtime Associate AD at the University of Utah - told me this after I was devastated when I didn't get the AD job at Weber St in 1988: "Sometimes it's the job you don't get that makes the difference in your career." And he was right.
Fill in the blank: I wished I would have_______.
As Satchel Paige - the legendary baseball pitcher who labored in the Negro Leagues for 20 years before finally making it to the Major Leagues at age 48 - famously said: "Don't look back; someone might be gaining on you." So for me that means: Look forward - don't dwell on the past - and forget about the "woulda couldas".