This January, I had the privilege of bringing six students along with Professor Alice Mullen to the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. Mother Nature sent us off in the midst of snow from Logan, but Indy awaited with a whopping 4⁰!
We entered the Westin Hotel for check-in and immediately connected with Sandy Barbour, Penn State’s Athletic Director. Sandy and I were Pam Hixon’s assistant coaches for UMass field hockey and lacrosse. (A little history: these teams participated in the first NCAA tournaments for women in 1981-1982, placing second to UConn in field hockey and becoming champions over Trenton State in lacrosse.)
Our next stop was the NCAA headquarters for a tour of the Dempsey and Brand buildings followed by exploring the Hall of Champions! The first night closed with the Honors Celebration dinner to include the top 10 student-athlete recipients, Silver Anniversary winners, Award of Valor, Inspiration Award and Theodore Roosevelt Award.
From Tyler Gaudette ’18: “From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, everything I did and saw was so eye-opening. It was incredible to see the sheer size of the NCAA and how friendly everyone is to each other. Also, the people I got to meet were incredible as well, so many amazing people in one place.”
Thursday was a full day of educational sessions for DI, DII, and DIII topics, followed by a membership networking reception. Friday’s focus was all about DIII, opening with an ethics presentation, legislation update, and forum discussion. The Commonwealth Coast Conference meetings filled the afternoon and the evening left us time to walk to the Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Monument Circle, etc. Saturday morning was the DIII Business and voting session. It also felt like the longest day as we sat in the Indy and Atlanta airports for our midnight return to campus.
The days flew by – the students were enlightened with all that really goes on “behind the blue dot,” and having the opportunity to network with many in the industry. We kept them on a pretty fast pace and they all want to attend again next year! It was really an awesome trip as I had the opportunity to see it through their eyes after attending the convention for the past 19 years. Three of them will bring a new perspective to our NCAA Rules and Regulations class with this experience!
From Sarah Williams ’19: “The NCAA convention was an eye-opening experience and it was an amazing opportunity to see and understand first hand how the magic happens! This trip expanded upon what I have learned in my sport management classes here at Nichols and gave me the opportunity to increase my knowledge of college athletics while also learning the business side of sport. I was honored to be in the audience for educational sessions, voting sessions, and to hear inspirational speeches from Julie Foudy, Robin Roberts and the NCAA President, Mark Emmert. I am so grateful to Nichols College and Professor Robert for allowing me to attend the NCAA convention!”