2014 NJCAA Service & Recognition Awards Presented
14 Apr, 2014
The 2014 NJCAA Service and Recognition awards were presented last week during the opening ceremonies of the 73rd NJCAA Annual Meeting.
Each year, the NJCAA recognizes individuals from its member institutions and national office staff that have excelled on the playing field or have exemplified the organization’s principles of leadership, achievement and service.
NJCAA APPRECIATION AWARD
Awarded by the NJCAA Executive Director to individuals and institutions that have provided the organization with extraordinary leadership, loyalty and service.
Joe Tubb – South Plains College
For over 30 years, Joe Tubb has served as athletic director at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas. Accumulating 33 NJCAA national championships during his tenure, Tubb was named Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of College Athletic Directors (NACDA) in both 2006 and 2010. In 2012, he received the L. William Miller Award – the highest honor one can received from the National Alliance of Two-Year Collegiate Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA).
Elected as NJCAA President in 2011, Tubb’s efforts in improving the organization over the past three years will be felt for generations to come. In his 17th year of service to the NJCAA, Tubb’s leadership elevated the sports of cross country, track and field, men’s basketball and men’s golf. Tubb has also played a vital role in enhancing the association through his positions on the Championship Events, Standards and Ethics, Strategic Planning and Eligibility committees. Hosting 11 NJCAA national championship events, Tubb helped raised the bar and set a new standard for other championship hosts to strive for.
Tubb’s journey at South Plains began in 1966 when he enrolled at the college and was a member of the men’s golf team. After completing his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at West Texas A&M, Tubb earned a master’s degree in physical education from Sul Ross State. He returned to South Plains as athletic director in 1983 following a 12-year career as a high school teacher and basketball coach.
REED K. SWENSON LEADERSHIP AWARD
Awarded to outstanding individuals who have provided extraordinary contributions to intercollegiate athletics.
Mary Ellen Leicht – NJCAA Executive Director
Since joining the national office staff in 1989 as an eligibility assistant, Mary Ellen Leicht has played an integral role in the NJCAA’s advancement over the past quarter-century. Named as NJCAA Executive Director in July of 2009, Leicht made history in becoming the first female chief executive of any national intercollegiate athletics organization in the United States.
Championing improvements in equity of sports seasons, scholarships and contests, Leicht has taken on several challenging initiatives which have resulted in a more effective and efficient association. Providing the organization with a level playing field for all member institutions and student-athletes, Leicht’s proactive approach has maintained the NJCAA’s status as the undisputed leader of two-year intercollegiate athletics. From eligibility to championship events, Leicht’s vision and leadership have helped shape the NJCAA and point it towards a brighter future.
A four-year letter winner in basketball at Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Leicht received her bachelor’s in business administration from the university before moving on to the University of New Mexico where she earned a master’s in sports administration. Before joining the NJCAA staff, Leicht spent a year working with the High Country Athletic Conference.
GEORGE E. KILLIAN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
Awarded annually by the NJCAA national office staff to individuals dedicated to the organization’s ideals of volunteerism, achievement, service, leadership and excellence.
Norma Carr – Salt Lake Community College
Athletic director of Salt Lake Community College (Utah) for 25 years, Norma Carr’s service towards the NJCAA began in 1993 when she was elected as Region 18 women’s assistant director. Her efforts over the past two decades have led to dramatic progress in both women’s and two-year collegiate athletics. In 22 years, Carr has served as chair of the Division I Softball Committee, co-chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee and as a member of the Championship Events Committee. Carr’s valued contributions have added improvements and consistency to the rankings and All-America selections in volleyball, women’s basketball and softball.
Rod Lovett – Parkland College
In his 23rd year at Parkland College (Ill.) – 13th as athletic director – Rod Lovett has been a valued administrator in the realm of two-year collegiate athletics. Since being elected as Region 24 men’s director in 2005, Lovett has been a valuable member of the NJCAA Board of Directors. During his tenure, Lovett has served as a member of the Health and Safety Committee as well as the Service and Recognition Committee. He is also currently the chair of the committees for Division II Baseball, DII Districting and is the vice-chair of the Championship Events Committee.
NJCAA MERIT AWARD
Awarded to former NJCAA student-athletes who have distinguished themselves nationally for their achievements in a variety of fields.
Masai Ujiri – Bismarck State College
Emigrating to the United States from Nigeria, Masai Ujiri played two seasons of men’s basketball at Bismarck State (N.D.) before playing professionally in Europe for six seasons. During this period, Ujiri also worked as a youth coach in Nigeria which led to his introduction in the NBA.
Beginning his professional career as a scout for the Orlando Magic in 2002, Ujiri quickly worked his way up the ladder and was named assistant General Manager for the Toronto Raptors in 2008. Joining the Denver Nuggets as executive vice president in charge of basketball operations, Masai was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2013 before returning to the Raptors as general manager this season.
NJCAA ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Awarded to former NJCAA student-athletes who have displayed outstanding athletic ability in national, Olympic or international competition and possess excellent ethical character.
Mitch Richmond – Moberly Area Community College
Bursting onto the stage at Moberly Area (Mo.) in 1984, Mitch Richmond led the Greyhounds to a 69-9 overall record over two seasons and a sixth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. After two seasons at Kansas State, Richmond was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the fifth-overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft. Enjoying a successful NBA career for 14 seasons, Richmond averaged 21 points per game, was a six-time NBA All-Star and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1989. Richmond was also a member of two U.S. Olympic Teams, earning a bronze medal at the 1988 summer games in Seoul and winning gold at the 1996 games in Atlanta.
Melaine Walker – Essex County College
In two years at Essex County (N.J.), Melaine Walker earned NJCAA All-America honors 10 times and claimed six national championships. Walker moved on to the University of Texas where she won three NCAA national championships and was a six-time All-American. In the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the Jamaica-native took gold with an Olympic-record performance in the 400-meter hurdles.
Dustin Penner – Dakota College at Bottineau
Dustin Penner’s NJCAA career is one of perseverance. Despite breaking his leg early on in his first year at Dakota-Bottineau (N.D.), Penner returned the following season to total 20 goals and 13 assists in just 23 games. Following a successful NCAA career at the University of Maine, Penner went on to sign with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2004. Now in his ninth season in the NHL, Penner has been part of two Stanley Cup championship teams and currently plays for the Washington Capitals.
April Steiner-Bennett – Paradise Valley Community College
April Steiner-Bennett began her successful career as a pole-vaulter at Paradise Valley, winning an NJCAA national championship in the event in 1999 with an NJCAA-record vault. Steiner-Bennett moved on to the University of Arkansas where she earned NCAA All-America honors six times. In 2008, April recorded a personal-best jump in the Olympic Trials to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team for the Beijing Summer Games.
NJCAA SERVICE AWARD
Awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the NJCAA on a national level for an extended period of time.
Jim Cox – Miami Dade College
Promoting two-year collegiate athletics for over three decades, Jim Cox has served the NJCAA in several leadership roles including – Region 8 Assistant Men’s Director, Chair of the Florida Council for Athletics and a member of the NATYCAA Executive Committee. Cox also played a vital role in Miami Dade’s hosting of the NJCAA Volleyball National Championship as the tournament’s assistant director from 1984-1991 and as tournament director from 1992-1996. Outside the NJCAA, Cox has also served as the Miami Heat’s head statistician since the franchise’s birth in 1988 and has worked statistics for five Super Bowls, 15 Orange Bowls and three BCS National Championship games.
Cotton Fitzsimmons – Moberly Area Community College
A former NJCAA basketball player at Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.), Cotton Fitzsimmons began his men’s basketball coaching career at Moberly Area (Mo.) in 1956. Capturing two NJCAA national championships in eleven years, Fitzsimmons moved on to Kansas State where he led the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen in his second season at the helm. He went on to coach 21 seasons in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Buffalo Braves, Kansas City Kings and San Antonio Spurs. Fitzsimmons accumulated 832 career wins and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1979 and 1989. Despite losing his battle to lung cancer in 2004, Fitzsimmons’ impact on NJCAA basketball will continue to be felt for generations to come.
Richard Groch – St. Clair County Community College
Building the St. Clair County (Mich.) baseball program into a powerhouse in the 1970s, Groch led the Skippers to three NJCAA Baseball World Series appearances and earned a second-place finish in 1976. For 17 years, Groch also served as a scout for the Montreal Expos and New York Yankees and is the man responsible for the Yankees drafting and signing Derek Jeter. He is now the Milwaukee Brewers’ assistant to the general manager in charge of scouting.
The NJCAA recognizes those individuals who will be retiring from their service towards the NJCAA.
Ron Case – Region 19 / Gloucester County College
Since 2003, Gloucester County (N.J.) athletic director Ron Case has been Region 19 women’s director and a leading voice of Division II and III colleges in the Northeast. He has been a vital member of both the DII and DIII Softball committees in addition to his service on the DIII Women’s Basketball committee. Since 2009, Case has served as the chair of the Division III Women’s Soccer committee. In addition to his service on national committees, Case has represented the NJCAA and two-year college athletics on the NCAA Two-Year College Relations Panel and was previously the Council Chair for Athletics with the American Association of Community Colleges. He is also a former president of NATYCAA and is currently a member of the organization’s executive committee.
Donna Genova – Region 15 / Bronx Community College
Beginning her NJCAA service in 1999, Donna Genova of Bronx (N.Y.) was elected as Region 15 women’s assistant director. Moving up to the region’s women’s director role one year later, Genova’s leadership has had a huge impact on the organization. She has served as chair of the Division III Women’s Basketball Committee since 2001 and has been a member of the DIII Volleyball, DIII Softball, Women’s Lacrosse, DIII Women’s Tennis and DIII Sports Districting committees. Genova’s hard work was recognized by the NJCAA national office staff in 2013 when she was presented with the George E. Killian Award of Excellence.
John Kuntz – Region 19 / Sussex County Community College
For the last 14 years, Sussex County (N.J.) assistant dean of athletics John Kuntz has held the post as Region 19 men’s director. At the national level, Kuntz has been a valuable voice for his region on many important committees, including the Division III Men’s Golf, Men’s Soccer and Baseball committees. He has also been a valuable member of the DII Baseball Committee, the Service and Recognition Committee and the DIII Districting Committee, along with being the chair of Division III Men’s Basketball since 2002. Kuntz's diligence was recognized by the NJCAA national office staff in 2007 when he was presented with the George E. Killian Award of Excellence.
NJCAA SERVICE MEDALS
Awarded to individuals who have served for 10, 15, 20 or 25 years as an assistant region director, region director, officer, coaches association president or presidential representative.
20 YEARS OF SERVICE
Art Becker – Scottsdale Community College (Ariz.)
Region 1 Men’s Assistant Director (1994-96, 2012-Present)
Region 1 Men’s Director (1996-2003)
Vice President of Men’s Division (2003-05)
NJCAA President (2005-11)
Wanda Bodey – NJCAA National Office
Administrative Assistant (1994-2008)
Assistant Director of Compliance (2008-12)
Associate Director of Compliance (2012-Present)
15 YEARS OF SERVICE
David Elder – Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association
Region 17 Men’s Assistant Director (1999-2000)
Region 17 Men’s Director (2000-11)
2nd Vice President of Men’s Division (2011-Present)
Donna Genova – Bronx Community College (N.Y.)
Region 15 Women’s Assistant Director (1999-2000)
Region 15 Women’s Director (2000-14)
10 YEARS OF SERVICE
Laura Brown – Daytona State College (Fla.)
Women’s Golf Coaches Association President (2004-Present)
Donna Campbell – Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (Ga.)
Region 17 Women’s Assistant Director (2004-08)
Region 17 Women’s Director (2008-Present)
Bill Krejci – Southwestern Community College (Iowa)
Region 11 Men’s Assistant Director (2004-Present)
Kevin O’Connor – North Platte Community College (Neb.)
Region 9 Men’s Assistant Director (2004-Present)
Randy Stange – Hutchinson Community College (Kan.)
Region 6 Men’s Assistant Director (2004-08)
Region 6 Men’s Director (2008-Present)
Mike St. John – Carl Albert State College (Okla.)
Region 2 Men’s Assistant Director (2004-08)
Region 2 Men’s Director (2008-Present)
Al Williams – North Idaho College
Region 18 Men’s Assistant Director (2004-06)
Region 18 Men’s Director (2006-Present)