Enterprise staff writer
Former UC Davis athletic director Joe Singleton wasnÕt quite Neil Armstrong, going where no man had gone before, but he didnÕt exactly walk the worldÕs company line either.
And it was that philosophy that helped Singleton take the path he followed and accomplish what he did during his time at UCD.
Singleton was one of the first African-American athletic directors in the United States and, while overseeing the Aggie program, was a big proponent of womenÕs athletics, pushing for women to receive the same benefits as their male counterparts.
In late April, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics included Singleton as part of its 12-member 2010 Hall of Fame class. In June, Singleton went down to Anaheim during NACDAÕs annual convention to receive his honor.
Ò(NACDA) has a committee of people to see if (the athletic director) made an impact while they served,Ó Singleton said. ÒThey determined that with what I did while I was the athletic director at UC Davis, that I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. So they gave me the honor. That was a big ego boost to me and showed me that I worked with people who didnÕt forget me.Ó
Singleton went to college at New Mexico Highlands Ñ New Mexico was one of the few states where an African-American could go to college at that time Ñ and played football there from 1953 to 1957. After graduation, he started teaching at a local high school and was also the assistant
football and track coach. The next year he was appointed the head football coach, a position he held until he came to UCD in 1969.
After a couple of years as an assistant football and track coach with the Aggies, athletic director Bill Lakie left the school to go back to Western Illinois and SingletonÕs fellow coaches thought he would be the right man to take over.
ÒFor them to hire me and take a chance on an assistant football and track coach to move up to athletic director in 1972 was a unique appointment,Ó Singleton said. ÒI was 32 years old at the time and was relatively young, but they gave me a chance to grow.Ó
It didnÕt take him long to realize he was in a position very few other African-Americans were at the time.
ÒWhen I first went in, the only other black athletic directors other than me were from the southeast part of the United States and the predominantly black colleges,Ó Singleton said.
At 32, Singleton wasnÕt quite sure what to do, but he wasnÕt exactly given the chance to ease into the job as Title IX was passed in 1972. While many schools and athletic directors resisted putting womenÕs athletics on equal ground as menÕs, Singleton was all for it. His work for womenÕs athletics went beyond just the UCD campus and Singleton was able to make an impact on
the national level.
ÒI knew separate but equal wouldnÕt work so I kept working and pushing and finally helped get the NCAA to start championships for women, to the objection of most athletic directors in the country,Ó Singleton said. ÒI didnÕt believe in separate but equal and kept saying we needed to share things. WomenÕs athletics is now equal to men.Ó
While the athletic director, Singleton was a member of a number of NCAA committees. He spent seven years as the chair of the Postgraduate Scholarship Committee and was also a member of the Executive Committee from 1977 to 1984. He was also an NACDA Executive Committee Member from 1976 to 1980.
Singleton stepped down in 1986 to go back into coaching and was the head track coach for two years when longtime Aggie mentor Jon Vochatzer went to Germany. In 1993, he retired for three years before going back to his alma matter in 1996 and serving as the athletic director at New
Mexico Highlands until 2000, when he retired for good.
Singleton received his award on June 23 at the 45th annual NACDA convention. He went in with former athletic directors from schools such as USC, Cal, Ohio State, UCLA and Oregon, among others.
But Singleton wasnÕt the only one from a smaller school athletically to be inducted, which exemplified one of the things he has always liked about NACDA Ñ the organization was for everyone from the big schools to junior colleges. Pete Pisciotta from Glendale Community
College and Larry Toledo from Pima Community College also were elected.
ÒIt was an honor to go down and be with my old peers and get to visit with them,Ó Singleton said. ÒItÕs good to see that somebody remembers you, especially the peers that you worked with. ItÕs saying that you did mean something and you did have something to say and they remember you.Ó
Ñ Reach Conor Tekautz at [email protected] or (530) 747-8049. Comment
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