The Academy was founded in 1972 by Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, the current President and Chief Executive Officer, in direct response to the ever increasing needs and demands in sport and society in America. From the beginning, the Academy’s general mission has been to serve the nation and the world as a sport education resource, upgrading sport through programs of instruction, research and service.
The Academy was born from the United States’ need for a national school of sport. This need was highlighted by the inferior United States team’s performance at the 1972 Munich Olympiad, which was attributed to poor administration, the lack of medical support, and unscientific coaching and training. This need for a sport institute was further underscored with the publication of the Blyth – Mueller Report in 1974. This landmark study conducted by Dr. Carl Blyth and Dr. Frederick Mueller of the University of North Carolina established a solid link between the poor preparation of coaches and the number and degree of severity of sports injuries to the athletes in their charge.
The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) was supportive of upgrading education in coaching, management and sports medicine and provided a forum for an exchange of ideas with respect to sport education in America. From this NACDA forum came the Academy’s first Board of Advisors (which subsequently became the Academy’s first Board of Visitors). That advisory board played a key role in the development of the basic founding concepts for establishment of a graduate institution for the education of teachers, coaches, sports medicine specialists and administrators, primarily at the nation’s secondary school level. The relationship between NACDA and the Academy continues until this day as the institution provides the NACDA graduation certification program in Sports Administration for their membership.
Implementation of these concepts fell to the governing Board of Directors (today’s Board of Trustees) which consisted of a group of diverse professionals with specific expertise important to the formation of such an organization. The inaugural Board included Mr. Robert Block, media specialist; Mr. Charles Cape, attorney; Mr. Gerald Hock, accountant; Dr. George Uhlig, educator; and Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, sport administrator.
In 1981, the Academy became a candidate for accreditation and membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and following review, was accredited in 1983.
Thus, the Academy became the nation’s first and only free standing, accredited institution dedicated solely to professional graduate studies in sport.
One of the Academy’s strengths is its “National Faculty” (NAFAC), which was developed during the Academy’s formative years and continues to this day to support the Academy’s resident faculty. It consists of distinguished sport educators in all areas of the profession. Members of the Academy’s NAFAC have served as sport specialists throughout the world in the Academy’s cultural exchange programs, reaching out to some 60 nations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Many members of the NAFAC are former faculty or professionals who have undergone the necessary credentialing and training process that allows them to serve as non-resident faculty in the Academy’s degree programs.
One of the visions of the Academy’s leadership during its conception was that it would be a “university without walls”; that the Academy could meet the needs of its students by teaching sport in any location on the globe. The Academy has met this challenge and has offered a great deal of flexibility to its students through innovative teaching practices such as the mentorship, and its widely recognized distance learning delivery system that enables all Academy degree-seeking students to take their entire course of study away from the Academy campus. This process was continued with the introduction of web-based course delivery in 2001.
The Academy has enjoyed a great of deal success over the past 40 years in its mission to become a national resource for sport education; indeed it has become known worldwide as “America’s Sports University ®.” With almost 1,300 students studying sports annually in the Academy’s degree programs, the Academy’s sport education programs are considered to be among the largest in the world. And judging by the success of its alumni, they are unquestionably among the finest.