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Minor League baseball exec gift will support University's sports administration program

ATHENS, Ohio (April 5, 2004) -- Ohio University has been good to Pat O'Conner, vice president for administration and chief operating officer for the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), and his decision to make a gift to the Sport Administration and Facility Management (SAFM) program as part of the Bicentennial Campaign was a "small repayment," according to comments he made on April 1, 2004, at an event to announce the gift.

Pat O'Conner announces the gift. Photo by Rick Fatica.The gift will establish the J. Patrick O'Conner Sports Administration Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Services. O'Conner said that the SAFM program had provided outstanding opportunity for him and he would not want a lack of resources to stand between an excellent student and similar opportunity in the future.

"I am very pleased to recognize this significant gift to the Sports Administration and Facilities Management Program," said Dr. Ming Li, director of the School of Recreation and Sport Sciences, in which the SAFM program is administered. "Pat O'Conner has been a stalwart supporter of the program and this gift is a statement of his generosity, his commitment and his continued leadership."

O'Conner has continued to be involved with the program since his graduation. He has provided multiple opportunities for students to gain experience at events such as the Winter Baseball Meeting and is often a visitor to campus and guest speaker in classes. In 1997 he was named SAFM Distinguished Alumnus and was the featured speaker at the 25th Symposium of the Ohio University Sports Administration Program. He is a member of the College of Health and Human Services Advancement Board.

"One measure of any program is the success of its alumni," said Ohio University's 18th president, Dr. Charles Ping. "By that measure, the Sports Administration program stands tall," he said in reference to O'Conner's success and that of several fellow alumni in the program who also hold leadership positions in professional sports and entertainment. Ping was Ohio University's president when the Sports Administration program was established. It was the first such program in the nation and is still considered to be the premier sports administration/management program.

O'Conner is minor league baseball's primary liaison to Major League Baseball on implementation of the Professional Baseball Agreement and oversees the planning, development and program execution. He also monitors all business activities of the NAPBL and its subsidiary companies. He assumed his current position in 1995; he was named COO in 1986. Prior to that, O'Conner headed Florida Operations for the Houston Astros, as well as serving as general manager of the Osceola team in the Florida State League. He was Florida State League Executive of the Year in 1988. He has been general manager of Greenwood in the South Atlantic League and Assistant General Manager of Beaumont of the Texas League. O'Conner, a native of Grove City, Ohio, holds a bachelor's degree in economics/finance from Wittenberg University (OH) as well as a master's in sports administration from Ohio University.

O'Conner said the gift was "the right thing to do." He said he believes alumni who develop a career in the sports industry should assist students.

"Alumni need to continue to build on the program so current students can emulate that success," O'Conner said. Although he says his decision to designate the gift wasn't done so others would follow, "if it also has the effect of inspiring others to make contributions, I think that's a great additional result."

The School of Recreation and Sports Sciences is one of six schools in Ohio University's College of Health and Human Services. The Sports Administration Program is a graduate level program with options leading to a master's degree in sports administration or a dual degree with a master's in business administration and a master's in sports administration. Through an agreement with the Capital University Law and Graduate Center, located in Columbus, Ohio, a joint law degree and master's of sports administration degree program is available. Other graduate programs offered by the school include athletic training education, coaching education, exercise physiology, and recreation studies.

The Bicentennial Campaign - which has raised more than $195 million toward its goal of raising $200 million to celebrate the university's bicentennial in 2004 - will provide money for scholarships, endowed professorships, technological enhancements, innovative programs, and selected capital improvements.

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Media Contacts: College of Health and Human Services Director of Communication Linda Lockhart, (740) 593-1433 or LockharL@ohio.edu

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