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Rhode Island College’s Don Tencher Named 2017 James J. Corbett Memorial Award Recipient

Cleveland, Ohio – March 16, 2017 — The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced today that Rhode Island College (RIC) Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Don Tencher has been selected as the recipient of the 51st James J. Corbett Memorial Award, the highest honor one can achieve in collegiate athletics administration. Tencher has served as NACDA Secretary since 2011-12. He will be honored at the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon sponsored by Under Armour on Tuesday, June 13 in conjunction with the 2017 NACDA & Affiliates Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Florida.

“I believe that Jim Corbett is smiling down upon us as we announce that Don Tencher is the 2017 recipient of the award that bears his name,” said NACDA Executive Director Bob Vecchione. “Don embodies what the award stands for, as he has never wavered in his loyalty to family and friends, integrity for the rules that govern the intercollegiate athletics enterprise and passion for the institutions and students he has served throughout his career. Don has been an extension of the NACDA staff for years as he has served on numerous committees and has been a mainstay at our Convention since 1986, helping out whenever an extra hand is needed. He is a welcomed addition to the family of Corbett Award recipients.”

The Corbett Award is presented annually to the collegiate administrator who “through the years has most typified Corbett’s devotion to intercollegiate athletics and worked unceasingly for its betterment.” Corbett, athletics director at Louisiana State University, was NACDA’s first president in 1965. Additionally, Tencher will receive an honorary degree from the Sports Management Institute (SMI), an educational institute sponsored by NACDA and the universities of Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Southern California and Texas.

“I feel an enormous amount of gratitude and am extremely humbled to receive the Corbett Award,” said Tencher. “It is especially true when I reflect on the list of giants in my profession who have received the award previously. I am thankful that my mentor Vin Cullen encouraged me to get involved with NACDA more than 30 years ago, and that Mike Cleary took a liking to a young administrator trying to find his way in this business.”

“I have been blessed that my NACDA family includes an outstanding group of Past Presidents, NACDA staff members and athletics administrators across the country who have played such an important role in both my professional and personal life. For me, receiving this award gives all the more credence that NACDA is the organization for all collegiate athletics administrators from every level of the industry.”

More than two decades have passed since Tencher took over the helm of the Rhode Island College athletics department. Three years prior to his arrival in 1995, the RIC athletics program was literally in ashes as a general alarm fire destroyed Walsh Gymnasium, the home of Anchormen and Anchorwomen athletics. Tencher would be the third athletics director in three years and he made it clear that his goal was to build an intercollegiate athletics program that would be successful on all levels.

Tencher now oversees an intercollegiate athletics program that has come a long way from the one he inherited. The program that was once in a state of flux is now one of the most successful in the nation. RIC has consistently finished in the top 30 percent of the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings among a field of 447 Division III institutions nationally.

In addition to his duties as athletics director, Tencher took over as the interim assistant vice president for administration in May 2010 and was appointed officially to the role in October 2012. His responsibilities included providing oversight to the college’s campus police department, facilities and operations area and to all capital projects, as he served in that position until December 2016.

During his tenure, Tencher has created blueprints that will direct the RIC athletics program for many years to come. In addition to a master plan for facilities, he has created and implemented a strategic plan that involves every facet of the department’s operation. The athletics department under his direction has also raised in excess of $10 million, including a significant endowment.

In addition to his responsibilities on campus, Tencher has been active professionally on the state, regional, and national levels. A member of the Rhode Island Sports Council Board of Directors, he has also served as the chair of the NCAA Wrestling Committee, served on the NCAA’s Initiative Grants Committee, and was appointed to one of the NCAA’s most influential sports committees, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, where he was the liaison to men’s and women’s basketball and the committee chair. He is a former member of the NACDA Executive Committee, chair of the Continuing Education Committee and a member of the games committee for both the Kick-Off and Pigskin Classic Football Games.

Along with the 2017 Corbett Award, NACDA will recognize Tencher as an Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year at its annual Convention for the fifth time in his career, as he earned the distinction in 2014, 2010, 2006 and 2001. He has previously received the General Robert R. Neyland Lifetime Achievement Award from the All-American Football Foundation and was the recipient of the Frank Keaney Award from the International Institute for Sport.

Tencher is a 1977 graduate of Barrington College where he lettered in basketball. He received a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. Tencher, a native of West Warwick, Rhode Island, currently resides with his family in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

What people around the industry are saying about Don Tencher:

NACDA President Chris Plonsky, Director of Women’s Athletics & Executive Senior Associate AD, University of Texas
“Don Tencher represents longevity, versatility and athletics leadership to the utmost. On the beautiful Rhode Island College campus and within the Little East Conference, Don’s positive, advancement-oriented influence has improved collegiate experiences for thousands of students, not just student-athletes. In every NACDA meeting, his knowledge and expertise shine forth as a campus VP in administration, an AD, a high side fundraiser, and a campus facilities/operations/safety expert. His career defines the meaning of the Corbett Award.”

Frank D. Sánchez, President, Rhode Island College
“In his more than 20 years guiding Anchormen and Anchorwomen athletics, Don has led Rhode Island College to unprecedented athletics success. During his tenure, nearly all of RIC’s athletics complexes have been significantly upgraded, keeping the campus among some of the top Division III schools in New England. Our athletics programs are fortunate to continue to thrive under his leadership. He is truly deserving of this honor.”

NACDA Past President Dave Hart, Outgoing Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics, University of Tennessee
“Don Tencher is a very deserving recipient of the 2017 James J. Corbett Memorial Award, NACDA’s most prestigious award. Don has been a shining example of the term “servant leadership” throughout his career, with no task too small and no individual not important enough to garner his full attention in order to make the organization he represents stronger and more vibrant as a result of his selfless leadership.”

NACDA Past President Dave Roach, Director of Athletics, Fordham University
“I was pleased to learn that Don Tencher has been selected to receive the James J. Corbett Memorial Award as he personifies all the attributes of the late James Corbett. Don is the consummate professional and is someone who truly cares about the student-athlete. He has worked tirelessly at Rhode Island College to provide his student-athletes with a positive and successful experience. He has been an important part of the NACDA experience for so many of us. He is always willing to lend a hand to all of the NACDA membership. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor and I’m pleased to call him a friend.”

NACDA Past President Judy Rose, Director of Athletics, University of North Carolina – Charlotte
“Don is so deserving of this recognition. He epitomizes the type of individual that the Corbett Award honors. I cannot remember a NACDA meeting or Convention when Don was not an active participant. Congratulations to you, Don, for all of your accomplishments!”

About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 52nd year, is the professional and educational Association for more than 11,000 college athletics administrators at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. More than 6,500 athletics administrators annually attend NACDA & Affiliates Convention Week. Additionally, NACDA manages 17 professional associations and three foundations. For more information on NACDA, visit

Release courtesy of the National Association Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)