By GALEN HAWES
ADA – Twenty years into his career at East Central University, Dr. Jeff Williams continues to ascend in the athletics field.
Williams, ECU’s director of athletics, has just been appointed as a conference representative to the NCAA Division II Management Council. His term of service on the council begins at the conclusion of the 2020 NCAA Convention and will continue through Jan. 31, 2024.
“Dr. Williams is an invaluable team member and does an outstanding job here,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “The NCAA is fortunate to gain his talent and experience and we couldn’t be more proud of him.”
ECU is a member of the Great American Conference, composed of 12 NCAA D-II schools and headquartered in Russellville, Arkansas. D-II is an intermediate-level division of NCAA athletic competition that offers an alternative to both the larger, better-funded D-I schools and to the scholarship-free environment of D-III.
“My appointment to the management council is significant for ECU because anything that can be done to bring greater exposure to our brand is beneficial,” said Williams. “ECU people are in positions of influence all over the world and I hope to be one as well and represent our University with pride.”
The management council is one of 13 D-II committees. It reports directly to the president’s council and is charged with recommending administrative policy and regulations that govern the division. The management council reviews and acts on recommendations from other D-II committees. As a member of the management council, Williams will participate in meetings and conference calls, as well as serve as an advocate for the NCAA.
“Jeff’s experience as an athletic administrator and his passion for making the Division II student-athlete experience better make him an ideal representative for the management council,” said GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt. “It’s a challenging time for the NCAA and I’m glad that Jeff’s voice will help guide the association over the next four years.”
This appointment coincides with Williams’ role as a D-II representative on the Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport, an organization of individuals from all three NCAA divisions that works toward the well-being of all student-athletes.
“It’s an interesting time to be stepping onto the management council in light of recent news about the rights of NCAA student-athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses,” said Williams. “One misconception about college athletics at our level is that playing equates to a free education. That is true at the D-I level, but every student-athlete at ECU is paying for part of educational expenses out of their own pockets. I’m excited about these recent developments and happy to have an opportunity to be in the room when any new rules are made – especially those that may address how we can improve the student-athlete experience while preserving fair competition at the same time.”
Williams started his career at ECU in 1999 as head athletic trainer and as a faculty member in the Kinesiology department, quickly building an accredited athletic training program. In 2003, Williams was named director of the Athletic Education program and four years later he was promoted to chair of the Kinesiology department. In 2012, he was promoted to ECU athletics director and has held that position since then.
“When I was a student here in 1992, I heard Gov. George Nigh tell students ‘you can do it from here’ and he knew because he was an East Central graduate,” said Williams. “When I came back to ECU in 1999, that’s what I told my students because it stuck with me.”