It was a sad day for the NCAA Thursday, as it was learned that Walter Byers, the NCAA’s first executive director, had passed away on Tuesday. He was 93.
Byers is credited as the NCAA’s first hard-fisted ruler, as he started as executive director to combat corruption. His no nonsense approach to college athletics changed the landscape of amateur sports.
More from Bruce Weber of the New York Times:
Walter Byers, who as executive director of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for more than three decades forged a moneymaking colossus from the concept of the student-athlete only to decry, finally, the college sports world he had wrought as corrupt and unfair, died on Tuesday at his home near Emmett, Kan. He was 93.
The cause was a urinary tract infection that had entered his bloodstream, his son Fritz said.
Mr. Byers was one of the 20th century’s most powerful sports figures, even if he never appeared on the playing field and was rarely in the public eye. When, in 1951, he was named the first executive director of the N.C.A.A., an organization established nearly half a century earlier at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, ostensibly to monitor and regulate college sports, it had never effected much influence or power.
Byers would go on to be the NCAA executive director until resigning in 1987. His resume speaks for itself, as college sports really rose to prominence under his watch. Byers’ legacy will live on for a long time.
So, from TodaysU, RIP Walter Byers.