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Portland's Joe Etzel to Receive Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award

May 26, 2011

CLEVELAND -- Joe Etzel, former director of athletics at the University of Portland (UP), was selected as the recipient of the 2011 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (DI-AAA ADA), on Thursday.

The award will be presented during the Division I-AAA ADA Meeting at the NACDA Convention in Orlando, Florida on Thursday, June 16. It is the highest award presented by the association.

"Our Association is proud to present Joe with the seventh annual Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award," stated Ken Kavanagh, 2010-11 Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award Committee chair and director of athletics at Florida Gulf Coast University. "Our Committee was once again challenged with a formidable task of selecting from an outstanding group of nominees, each of whom has made intercollegiate athletics significantly better with their decades of contributions. In turn, Joe now rightfully joins a great list of previous honorees. In his distinguished 34-year tenure as the Portland AD, he was an innovative, conscientious and visionary administrator who epitomized the characteristics and contributions for which this highest award of our Association represents. Joe's bold leadership advanced collegiate athletics--at not only UP, but within the West Coast Conference, and at the national level as well."

Etzel began his tenure at Portland in 1970 when the university's intercollegiate athletics program consisted of three coaches and five men's teams. When Etzel retired in 2004, those figures increased to 13 full-time and 11 part-time coaches for 16 men's and women's teams--all competing at the NCAA Division I level. Etzel retired as the longest tenured athletics director amongst NCAA Division I institutions.

Twelve Pilot teams became members of the West Coast Conference during Etzel's tenure, the first being men's basketball in 1976. The University also built four athletics facilities during the Etzel era: The Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center (basketball/volleyball), Louisiana-Pacific Tennis Center, Pilot Stadium (baseball, which later was renamed in his honor) and Harry A. Merlo Field (soccer). Academically, a total of 14 student-athletes were named Academic All-Americans, while five Portland student-athletes received postgraduate Scholarship Awards during Etzel's tenure.

Etzel also had a 21-year reign as the university's head baseball coach, beginning in 1966. He took on the director of athletics position in 1970 and served in both capacities until his coaching retirement following the 1986 baseball season.

Etzel was inducted into the University of Portland Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and was also a member of the NCAA Executive Committee.

Members of the Gary Cunningham Lifetime Achievement Award Committee include Division I-AAA athletics directors: Ken Kavanagh, committee chair; Ken Bothof, Wisconsin Green Bay; Peg Bradley-Doppes, Denver; Bob Driscoll, Providence; Tom Hickman, Winthrop; Ed McLaughlin, Niagara; Stan Morrison, California Riverside; Lynn Robinson, Mount St. Mary's; Mike Roth, Gonzaga; and Eric Sexton, Wichita State.

About Division I-AAA ADA: Now in its 10th year, the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association's mission is to enhance initiatives common to its Division I-AAA membership (the Division I institutions that do not sponsor football), in particular, aspects related to their flagship basketball programs. For more information on the Division I-AAA ADA, please visit www.div1aaa-ada.com. The Division I-AAA ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), which is in its 45th year. For more information on NACDA and the 11 professional associations that fall under its umbrella, please visit www.nacda.com.