March 16, 2001
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - Eve Atkinson, Lafayette's director of athletics, was honored this past Tuesday evening as one of seven national recipients of "Role Model Recognition" at the Celebration of Women 2001 Swimming Championship Banquet, which was presented by USA Swimming, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the Women's Sports Foundation, and the Nassau County Sports Commission in honor of the 20th anniversary of women's swimming and diving in the NCAA. The event, which had almost 500 attendees, was held at Hofstra University Arena in Hempstead, N.Y., and kicked off the 2001 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships that are being held at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, N.Y.
Atkinson, a former 12-time All-American swimmer, chaired the NCAA Women's Swimming Committee from 1982 to 1987, during which time she directed the operations of 21 NCAA national swimming and diving championships. She then served an additional three years as a member of the NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming Committee. During that time, she piloted the committee on rules making decisions that are published in the NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming & Diving Rules.
The banquet featured 1964 Olympic gold medalist Donna de Varona as its emcee and U.S. Olympic Committee President Sandy Baldwin as the featured speaker. Also receiving "Role Model Recognition" were: Jean Freeman, the head coach at the University of Minnesota for the past 26 years, Karen Moe Humphreys, a 1972 Olympic gold medalist and former head coach at the University of California-Berkeley, Jill Sterkel, a four-time Olympian and gold medalist in the 1976 and 1984 Olympic Games and ninth-year head coach at the University of Texas, Cristina Teuscher, a two-time Olympian who was the 2000 recipient of the Honda-Broderick Cup which is awarded to the most outstanding NCAA woman athlete in all sports, Dara Torres, a four-time Olympian and three-time NCAA champion in 1988 who currently holds the American record in the 50-free and 100-butterfly, and Carol Zaleski, the president of USA Swimming from 1986-90 and 1994-98.
"I was thrilled to be honored at such an amazing national awards banquet," said Atkinson, Lafayette's director of athletics since 1990. "It was truly my honor to be in such distinguished company, especially with my old swimming colleagues and friend Donna de Varona. I humbly offer great thanks and appreciation to USA Swimming, the NCAA, the Women's Sports Foundation, Hofstra University, and the Nassau County Sports Commission. The sport of swimming has had a true positive influence in my life." Atkinson still swims a mile before work each day to keep in shape and reduce stress.
Atkinson, who received the 1996 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Female Administrator of the Year Award and the 1997 ECAC Katherine Ley Award, became the first woman to hold the director of athletics post of a combined men's and women's program at the NCAA Division I level with a Division I-AA football program when she arrived at Lafayette. During her tenure at Lafayette, Atkinson has restructured the athletic department administration and budgeting procedures, and developed computer operations. She was at the forefront of the Allan P. Kirby Sports Center, a project that was dedicated in June of 2000 that saw a $24 million, 110,000-square foot intramural and recreational sports facility attached to the former Allan P. Kirby Field House, and $2.5 million in renovations and major face-lifts to the existing structure -- simply the best facility of its kind in the nation at a school the size of Lafayette.
A 1974 honors graduate of West Chester University with a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education, Atkinson earned All-America swimming honors 12 times in 1972, 1973, and 1974, and was a member of West Chester's women's swimming team that captured the overall national championship in 1972. She also played on the lacrosse and field hockey teams at West Chester that were ranked first in the country throughout her career.
In 1978, she earned a master of science degree in physical education with high honors from West Chester. Atkinson was awarded her doctorate of education degree in sports administration with honors from Temple University in May of 1991. In May of 1990, Atkinson was inducted into the West Chester Athletic Hall of Fame and also received the West Chester University Distinguished Alumni Award. At the request of the President of West Chester, Atkinson returned to her alma mater as the 119th commencement speaker in 1992.
Atkinson has served as an administrator or a coach at Yale University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Temple University, Hofstra University, and Lafayette College. While at Hofstra, she developed the aquatic designs for the Hofstra Swim Center, which at the time was the only 50-meter Olympic swimming facility on Long Island. The Hofstra Swim Center hosted the 1984 NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, which was the world's largest collegiate swimming meet with 482 competitors and received national television coverage on ESPN.
Atkinson currently serves as president of ECAC, and has served on the NCAA Business and Finance Cabinet, the Special NCAA Committee to Review Financial Consideration in Intercollegiate Athletics, and the NCAA Division I Management Transition Team. She also served as Chair of the Patriot League Directors of Athletics Committee, as Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and as president of the Division I-AA Directors of Athletics Association of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. The first female president of a collegiate football organization, Atkinson was honored in 1999 with an Award of Service for her term as president.
Atkinson will return to the Nassau County Aquatic Center this evening to be the awards presenter for the 100-yard breaststroke champion at the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships.