Longtime NCAA executive David Berst announces retirement
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Longtime NCAA executive David Berst, perhaps best known for announcing SMU football would receive the ''death penalty'' in 1987 and then fainting, will retire this summer.
After a 43-year NCAA career, Berst will be replaced by Kevin Lennon as vice president for Division I governance.
''I am grateful for the long-time opportunity to immerse myself in complex problems facing intercollegiate athletics and to serve and work with so many highly talented people throughout the office, the membership and the public along the way,'' Berst said in a statement released by the NCAA. ''I am pleased that Kevin will serve Division I governance moving forward. I have great confidence in his leadership.''
Berst joined the NCAA in 1972 as an entry-level employee in the enforcement division and eventually headed the department. When the NCAA moved its headquarters from Overland Park, Kansas, to Indianapolis in 1998, Berst was given a new title -- the one he's held for the past 17 years.
During his tenure in enforcement, Berst presided over some of the biggest scandals in NCAA history, had lengthy battles with the late Jerry Tarkanian and presided over the NCAA's harshest penalty possible to SMU - banning the football program from competition for a year as a repeat violator because of booster payments to athletes.
Berst, who was ill at the time, passed out in a hot, crowded room after making the announcement on SMU's campus. He was carried out of the room.
Berst also was around for some landmark legal decisions -- the 1984 Supreme Court case that allowed conferences and schools to negotiate their own television contracts for college football and last summer's U.S. District court ruling that could open the door for college athletes to receive up to $5,000 per year beyond the old scholarship limits.
He's spent the last two years working on a new governance structure for the NCAA.
''David Berst's service to the NCAA has been invaluable,'' NCAA President Mark Emmert said. ''The association and its members will miss his breadth of knowledge, his honesty and integrity and most of all, his commitment to the students we serve.''
Lennon, among the most respected executives inside headquarters, has been on the NCAA's staff for more than a quarter century. He will take over his new job April 6, the night of the men's basketball championship game.
Lennon has degrees from Ohio University and Harvard, served as an assistant commissioner with the Southwestern Athletic Conference and worked at Notre Dame before joining the NCAA's staff. In 1998, Lennon took over as vice president of academic and membership affairs, where he has provided guidance on rules compliance and academics for more than 16 years.
''We recognize that this is a challenging time for the division, and everyone in Division I wants to ensure we continue to provide student-athletes with the opportunity to graduate and compete at the very highest level in the NCAA,'' Lennon said. ''I have great confidence in the membership that we will address all of these issues together.''
The NCAA also announced Diane Dickman, managing director of academic and membership affairs, will become the managing director of Division I governance.
Dickman joined the NCAA staff in 1996 after six years in athletics administration at her alma mater, Tulsa, and a brief stint on the LPGA Tour. She played an instrumental role in the academic reforms enacted under the late Myles Brand and later under Emmert.
Oliver Luck, the NCAA's new executive vice president for regulatory affairs, will lead the search for Lennon's replacement.