The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) honored George Washington Athletic Director Patrick Nero and VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin Tuesday at the James J. Corbett Luncheon as 2017 recipients of the Under Armour AD of the Year award. Additionally, Atlantic 10 Conferece staff member Debbie White was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame Monday.
The AD of the Year Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities. Previous winners from the Atlantic 10 have included Davidson's Jim Murphy (2003-04), Dayton's former AD Tim Wabler (2014-15), Dave Roach of Fordham (2009-10), Thorr Bjorn of Rhode Island (2015-16) Richmond's Keith Gill (2014-15), Saint Joseph's Don DiJulia (2001-02) and Chris May of Saint Louis (2013-14).
In his sixth year as Director of Athletics and Recreation at the George Washington University, Patrick Nero has seen the Colonials achieve unprecedented success across GW's 27 intercollegiate, varsity athletic programs during his tenure. In the last five years under Nero, GW Athletics has seen 11 teams win championships in their respective sports, with 15 Coach of the Year honors accumulated. In addition to the championships won in competition, GW also claimed the NCAA Team Works Division I Championship by performing more hours of community service than any school nationwide in the fall of 2015.
Nero directs a staff who oversaw an all-time department record of a 3.27 cumulative GPA among student-athletes in the spring of 2016, and reached fund-raising milestones that included more than 1,800 donors to the Buff and Blue Fund in 2015-16, a 21% increase from the previous record number. Originally hired in the summer of 2011, Nero signed a contract extension in 2015 that runs through 2021.
"Patrick Nero has transformed George Washington Athletics, providing leadership that has made GW a perennial conference champion," stated Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade. "As the past Chair of the A-10 Athletic Directors committee, Patrick has also been a valuable leader at the national and conference level. This is a well-deserved honor and I congratulate him for earning this recognition."
Ed McLaughlin was named the sixth athletic director in VCU history on July 24, 2012. During McLaughlin's first four years, VCU has experienced competitive success unparalled in the history of the institution. The Rams have won 13 Atlantic 10 Conference team championships, 47 A-10 individual championships and have sent 29 teams to the NCAA Tournament. The baseball program advanced to the 2015 NCAA Super Regionals after winning the Dallas Regional and the men's basketball program advanced to its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2016.
An essential part of the student-athlete experience, academics and academic support have been made a point of emphasis during McLaughlin's tenure with increases to staffing and tutoring for the student-athletes. In the classroom, the 270-plus student-athletes have performed at record levels since McLaughlin's arrival in 2012. The department GPA exceeded 3.0 three times, with more than 58 percent of VCU's student-athletes achieving a 3.0 GPA or higher during that time. Externally, the department has increased its revenue gradually each year, surpassing $11 million in overall revenue in 2015 and doubling since McLaughlin's arrival. The Ram Athletic Fund also has doubled since McLaughlin's arrival to more than $3.5 million to go along with large increases in ticket sale revenue throughout the 83-game sellout streak. In 2015, VCU signed a 10-year agreement with Learfield Sports to outsource multimedia rights for the first time in the department's history, guaranteeing the department $22 million over the term of the contract.
“The current Chair of our A-10 Athletic Directors' committee, Ed McLaughlin is a leader who is well respected by student-athletes coaches and his peers,” stated McGlade. “He has not only continued the tradition of excellence that was present at VCU when he took over, he has elevated the Rams' athletic program to have a consistent national presence in college athletics. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”
White, who began working with the A-10 in January, retired after 36 years in the Old Dominion athletic department and received a CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. The first full-time female sportswriter in the state of Virginia, serving on the staff of The Daily Press in Newport News from 1974-77, Harmison White then joined the ODU staff in 1979 as the assistant SID. CoSIDA recognized her in 2006 with the Trailblazer Award for her pioneering efforts in the profession.