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NCAA names Vowels vice president for education services

May 15, 2007

Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Robert Vowels has been named vice president for education services at the NCAA national office. Vowels will assume his new duties August 1.

Robert Vowels

Vowels replaces Ron Stratten, who announced his retirement in January.

In his new position, Vowels will work with NCAA national office leadership and Association membership to develop and enhance education and outreach programs that address student-athlete leadership development, gender issues, health and safety, and sportsmanship. Vowels also will serve as the primary NCAA administrator for youth-outreach services and oversee the NCAA’s drug-testing program. He will report to Bernard Franklin, NCAA senior vice president for governance, membership, education and research services.

“Robert brings a wealth of experience in intercollegiate athletics at both the institutional and conference levels, and we are excited he is joining the NCAA team,” said Franklin. “He has an impressive record of performance in a variety of NCAA governance bodies, including the Division I Management Council and the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee.”

NCAA President Myles Brand praised Vowels’ leadership on important Association initiatives and in intercollegiate athletics. “The NCAA membership and national office is most fortunate to be able to attract Robert Vowels,” Brand said. “He is a proven leader and a person of broad experience within intercollegiate athletics.”

Vowels said he is eager to begin leading the education-services function to the next level. “Developing education programs addressing student-athlete health and well-being — as well as mentoring programs aimed at future student-athletes — are critically important and have an impact on our youth for years to come.”

Vowels joined the SWAC as commissioner in 2003, where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the office, administered and enforced conference legislation, issued rules interpretations and managed 18 conference championships, among other duties. His accomplishments include negotiating multiyear football, basketball and Olympic sports television agreements with ESPN. Additionally, he revised the SWAC corporate-partner program and implemented an integrated program involving television, marketing and promotions, Internet, public relations, print publications and sponsorships.

He also was commissioner of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 2000-02, where he oversaw the expansion of the league to 11 institutions and negotiated the first multiyear SIAC football and basketball television agreement with Urban Sports and Entertainment. Vowels also negotiated the SIAC’s first licensing and agreement program and developed the conference’s first corporate-partnership program.

Vowels’ 16-year career in intercollegiate athletics also includes positions as associate commissioner for the Big Ten Conference and as assistant director of athletics at Vanderbilt University. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University and a juris doctorate from North Carolina Central University.

With Vowel’s appointment also comes some restructuring within the education services group. Health and safety will be a new stand-alone unit within education services and will include the NCAA injury surveillance program. Additionally, The NCAA Hall of Champions, located adjacent to the NCAA national office in Indianapolis, will be realigned under the national office’s branding and communications group.

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