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NACDA's Executive Director Mike Cleary Named Merit of Honor Recipient; Award to be Named Michael J. Cleary Merit of Honor Moving Forward

March 10, 2011

MJCCLEVELAND - The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced today that Executive Director Mike Cleary will become just the eighth recipient of the Merit of Honor Award in the Association's 46-year history. Moving forward, it was also announced that the Award would carry the Executive Director's name, becoming the "Michael J. Cleary Merit of Honor Award."

Cleary, who announced his retirement in January and will continue to serve as the Director Emeritus for three years, will be honored at the Association's Annual Convention in June during the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup Luncheon on Friday, June 17 at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla.

"Our Association has had the opportunity to have Mike at the helm since the beginning and, as much as he has meant and means to past and present administrators, it is important that future administrators know that his legacy will continue to be synonymous with NACDA," stated NACDA President Dave Roach, director of athletics at Colgate University. "NACDA and our affiliate associations would not be where they are today without his leadership."

Cleary, who was named to the post in 1965, has led the Association longer than any other current Division I conference commissioner, coaching association executive director or national association leader. In addition, Cleary has had the opportunity to work with all five NCAA presidents.

Cleary will continue to serve as the president for the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation and the Michael J. Cleary Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

Over the course of its 45 year history, Cleary has overseen the creation of NACDA's Convention, its 11 affiliate associations, Facilities Workshop, Security Summit, the NACDA Daily Review, the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup and Athletics Administration.

As president of the McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation, Cleary has been responsible for raising more than $2 million to date. Annually, the program awards five postgraduate scholarships to minority senior-level students who are planning to pursue a graduate degree in athletics administration. In addition, the Foundation also created the John McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame in 2007, to honor minority athletics administrators that have made an impact on the profession.

While serving as NACDA's Executive Director, Cleary simultaneously held the posts of commissioner of the Ohio Athletic Conference from 1973-81 and administrator of the Division 1A Athletic Directors' Association from 1986-92.

Prior to NACDA, Cleary served as the director of championship events for the NCAA, and also held the same position with the NAIA. Before entering the field of intercollegiate athletics, Cleary served as the general manager of the Cleveland Pipers in the old American Basketball League under owner George Steinbrenner. While with the Pipers, Cleary hired John McLendon, the first Black coach to head an American professional sports team. He also served as general manager of the Kansas City Steers of Abe Saperstein's ABL and Midwest scout for the New York Knicks.

A behind-the-scenes person in the field of athletics, Cleary has served on committees with the USOC; the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA); and the National Football Foundation (NFF) and Hall of Fame, to name a few. In 1999, Cleary was named to the Board of Directors of the NFF and, in 1995; he received the award for the Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Additionally, in 1997, he received the St. Ignatius High School (Ohio) Distinguished Alumnus Award; in 1999, he was honored by the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA); in 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the United States Sports Academy; in 2009, was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame; and in 2010, was inducted into the CYO Hall of Fame. Cleary was foreman of the Grand Jury of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) from January through April 2000 and had previously served as a member of the Board of Regents of St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kansas.

About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 46th year, is the professional and educational association for more than 6,500 college athletics administrators at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 2,200 athletics administrators annually attend the NACDA Convention. Additionally, NACDA administers 11 professional associations for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics directors. For more information on NACDA, visit www.nacda.com.