Tom O'Connor Named AstroTurf Southeast Division "AD of the Year"
June 6, 2007
Fairfax, Va (June 6, 2007)--George Mason University director of athletics Tom O'Connor has been named the Southeast Division AstroTurf AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors. O'Connor will receive the award at the NACDA awards luncheon in Orlando, Fla., this Friday, June 8.
O'Connor was appointed director of athletics at George Mason in 1994 and added the title of assistant vice president in 1999. Under O'Connor's leadership, George Mason was one of the nation's first 15 institutions to complete the NCAA certification process and continues to rank perennially among the nation's best in the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act survey.
The Union City, N.J. native completed his second year of a five-year term on the Division I Men's Basketball Championship Committee, which has control, direction and supervision of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. He is the first representative from the CAA to serve on the high profile committee and recently was selected to serve as chair, beginning in September, becoming the first chair of the committee from a non-football member institution
An historic accomplishment took place in 2006 when the George Mason men's basketball team made their first-ever Final Four appearance. This NCAA championship run capped the best season in George Mason history and the best in the history of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Also under O'Connor's administration, the men's track and field team captured the 1996 indoor national championship. Twice under O'Connor, the Patriots have ranked first among Division I institutions in the Directors' Cup standings.
The Patriots experienced their best season in attendance at men's basketball games this past season, averaging a school best 6,834 fans, which posts as the conference's second-best in history. The Patriot Center was sold out for two of those games, which rank as the top two crowds in Patriots basketball history with 9,804. Nationally, the Patriots finished in the Top 100 in attendance.
Under his leadership, Mason student-athletes have excelled in the classroom. Three Patriots have received National CoSIDA/Verizon Academic All-America recognition in his tenure, most recently Chris Looze, who in 2005 became the first Mason student-athlete to garner academic player of the year in baseball. This past year, Melissa Venturi of the women's lacrosse team was part of a select group of female student-athletes that were selected to receive an NCAA Women's Enhancement Program Postgraduate Scholarship for Careers in Athletics. Only 13 student-athletes are awarded the prestigious scholarship each year.
O'Connor recently completed a two-year term as the president of the CAA and has been a member of the NCAA's Management Council, DI Strategic Planning Committee, Selection Review Committee, Business/Finance Cabinet and Men's Basketball Rules Committee. Previously, he was also a member of the Division I-AAA ADA Executive Committee. Before being hired at George Mason, O'Connor coached basketball at Dartmouth and Loyola College and also served as AD at Loyola, Santa Clara and St. Bonaventure.
NACDA Executive Director Mike Cleary explains the ADOY Award is essential because it highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to campuses and their surrounding communities.
"Our Honors and Awards Committee recognized a need for an award such as the AD of the Year," said Cleary, who oversaw implementation of the program to allow all NACDA Officers and Honors and Awards Committee members to participate in the awards process, should they be elected. "The program brings to light the exceptional jobs done by athletics directors across the country. These 29 winners exemplify that, providing us with a group of outstanding athletics directors who excel at their jobs."
All NACDA-member directors of athletics in the United States, Canada and Mexico who met the criteria were eligible for the award. Among the criteria were service as an AD for a minimum of five academic years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments. Additionally, each AD's institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body (i.e., NCAA, NAIA, etc.), in which the institution could not have been on probation or cited for a lack of institutional control within the last five years during the tenure of the current athletics director.
About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 42nd year, is the professional and educational association for more than 6,100 college athletics administrators at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 2,000 athletics administrators annually attend the NACDA Convention. Additionally, NACDA administers 10 professional associations for the separate business units that report directly to the athletics director.