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NACDA to Honor Arnold Palmer at 2013 Convention

April 25, 2013

CLEVELAND – The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced today that Wake Forest University alumnus and PGA Legend, Arnold Palmer, will become just the 10th recipient of the Michael J. Cleary Merit of Honor Award in the Association’s 48-year history. The award recognizes individuals that exemplify the core values on which the Association was built - education, service, leadership, integrity, teamwork and commitment.

Palmer attended Wake Forest University, where he became the first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) individual champion, winning the 1954 title. That same year, he won the U.S. Amateur Championship and turned professional. In 2011, Wake Forest named its entire golf complex, a facility that he designed, after Palmer.

During a four year stretch, from 1960-63, Palmer captured 29 titles. He was named “Athlete of the Decade” for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll. Before, during and after that great decade, the famous golfer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature. Sixty-two of the victories came on the U.S. PGA Tour, starting with the 1955 Canadian Open. He was a two-time PGA Player of the Year recipient.

Palmer is president of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a multi-division structure encompassing much of his global commercial activity. He has been involved in automobile and aviation service firms over the years and still is the principal owner of a car dealership in his Latrobe (PA) hometown.

He is president and sole owner (since 1971) of Latrobe Country Club and president and principal owner of the Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Fla., which he and a group of associates acquired in 1970. Bay Hill hosts the annual Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard, on the PGA Tour.  Another important facet of his activities involves the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which is based at the Bay Hill Club. Since the mid-1960s, Palmer has put his stamp on about 300 new courses throughout the nation and world.



The golfing great has been the recipient of countless honors, the symbolic plaques, trophies and citations scattered throughout his personal, club and business worlds, the epitome coming when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2009. He has received virtually every national award in golf and after his great 1960 season both the Hickok Professional Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year trophies.

Palmer is also widely known for his philanthropic outreach, ranging from the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center in California to the Arnold Palmer Pavilion in Pennsylvania to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando.

In the 48 years of the Association, only nine people have been bestowed this honor – Mike Cleary, NACDA (the award’s namesake); Phil Knight, Nike; Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee; Myles Brand, NCAA; Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers; Ben Carnevale, College of William and Mary; Joe Crowley, University of Nevada; Bob Bronzan, San Jose State University; and Pete Rozelle, National Football League. 

About NACDA:  NACDA, now in its 48th 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 13 professional associations, including seven for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics directors. For more information on NACDA, visit www.nacda.com.