NASHVILLE, JAN. 10 -- In one of the last acts of the 85th annual NCAA convention, University of California-San Diego Athletic Director Judith Sweet today was elected president of the organization. She is the first woman and first person from a Division III school to hold the office, which has been held for the past two years by Arkansas faculty representative Al Witte.
"I think it's a real positive message to other people who may have felt that they never would have an opportunity to take on increasing amounts of responsibility within the NCAA," said Sweet, who has served as Division III vice president and most recently as NCAA secretary-treasurer.
She also has been deeply involved with the organization's special committee on membership structure, serving as acting chair for a period of time while Southwest Conference Commissioner and panel chairman Fred Jacoby battled health problems. In addition she had been contacted by the University of Washington as a possible replacement for athletic director Mike Lude, who is leaving soon.
She brings with her a reputation as a consensus builder, and it is believed her election will help focus attention on women's athletic concerns.
"No one to my knowledge has earned this opportunity or distinction more than she has," Witte said. "She has a total dedication to the welfare of the association and all of its divisions. She has a remarkable, calm spirit. Nothing ruffles her. She seems to me to be an exceptionally fair-minded and reasonable person in her views who is very rational in the way she advocates positions. She also has the total support of everybody who has worked for her or with her."
Former University of the District of Columbia athletic director Lee McElroy is interested in becoming Howard University's athletic director, replacing William Moultrie who resigned in November.
McElroy now is Sacramento State's athletic director and has served as Houston's associate athletic director. He said he had not known the Howard job was open until he arrived here for the convention and he has not spoken with anyone from Howard.
But he added: "I'd assume it would be something you would have to be interested in. It's one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country. It would be something that definitely deserves examination."
Howard faculty representative Sondra Norrell-Thomas said the school still is accepting applications for the job. Louisville assistant athletic director Dick Hill also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
The shrinking Metro Conference's chances of receiving an exemption that will allow it to keep its automatic bid for the men's basketball tournament may face an uphill fight. If it is not allowed to keep the bid despite defections that have claimed four of its eight members, it is likely Virginia Tech would leave and the conference would fold. The issue is being examined by a special committee chaired by Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Gene Corrigan.