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Dennis M. Collins Award


CLEVELAND -- For the first time in 26 years, the North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Trophy has a name. The award will be christened the Dennis M. Collins All-Sports Trophy in tribute to the Conference's former executive director. Collins passed away suddenly in June, 2009.

The highest honor bestowed by the Conference, the All-Sports Trophy is given annually to the school that performs the best across the NCAC's 22 sports. Men's and women's performances in all sports are combined into one total, exemplifying the North Coast's commitment to equity and balance among programs.

"The North Coast Athletic Conference joins colleges that are not only neighbors, but that share an understanding of athletics as a participatory activity pursued by student-athletes who are fully integrated into campus life and committed, first and foremost, to academic achievement," shared Dr. Dale Knobel, president of Denison University, who is in his second term as NCAC president. "Dennis Collins played a key role in building the NCAC into one of the most respected conferences in NCAA Division III, and naming the coveted All-Sports Trophy for Dennis is our way of perpetuating the integrity and commitment to our common values that he represented during his quarter century of conference leadership."

Collins became the first, and only, executive director of the NCAC when the league began its first playing season in 1984. For 25 years, he was devoted to the league and served as the chief proponent of its guiding philosophies. He firmly believed that athletics can and should complement academic life, rather than compete with it, and sports should enhance the experience of students during their college years.

"If anyone ever wanted to know what the NCAC was about, they'd just need talk to Dennis for a few minutes," said Keri Alexander Luchowski, acting executive director. "He was our biggest cheerleader. He was so proud of this conference because he thought that this was the way sports should be. He would be so humbled by this honor, and would probably say he didn't deserve it. But I can think of no better way for us to pay tribute to him."

Collins was a respected national leader and had served as president of the NCAA Division III Commissioners Association, a group he helped to organize in 1989. From 1992-1996, he served as a member of the NCAA Council, the national association’s equivalent of a board of directors. In the same period, he chaired the NCAA Dist. IV Postgraduate Scholarship Committee, served on the Division Special Restructuring Taskforce, which helped lay the groundwork for federation of the Association, and he completed a six-year term on the NCAA Interpretations Committee in 1999. At the time of his death, Collins was serving on the Division III Nominating Committee.

He was awarded the prestigious Meritorious Service Award from the Div. III Commissioners' Association in 2006. The Association announced a special career achievement award in his name this winter.  That honor will be presented occasionally to a conference executive who “best exemplifies the leadership, dedication and service” shown by Collins during his 25-year tenure as a commissioner. The award will be presented when deemed appropriate to “recognize and honor extraordinary career achievement in guidance, commitment and duty to Division III and the Division III Commissioners Association.”

Additionally, Collins was a founder of the Intercollegiate Officiating Association, a cooperative amongst 27 NCAA/NAIA colleges that provides regional officiating services. Collins served 17 years as that group’s chief administrator.