DAPHNE, Ala.— United States Sports Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich became the first American to earn the Sportsman of the Year award from The Gabarrón International Awards, which are being presented Nov. 8 in New York City.
Dr. Rosandich, who was born and raised in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., was chosen for the honor for his “nearly 60 years of continuous dedication and contributions to the creation of several generations of athletes, educators and sports managers in the five continents.” The prestigious award was first won by the late International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
For nearly 60 years, Dr. Rosandich, who founded the United States Sports Academy, has been a major figure in sport around the world as a coach and as an educator. As a U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer, he served as the track and field coach for the U.S. armed services. He later was the national track and field coach for various Southeast Asia and Middle East nations for Olympiads from the 1956 Games in Melbourne to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He even served as U.S. Team Handball president at the 1996 Centennial Atlanta Olympic Games.
Throughout his career, Dr. Rosandich has built and established many sports programs, events and facilities. He founded and directed the Marine Corps Relays in Quantico, Va. In the early 1960s, Dr. Rosandich was directly responsible for bringing the Peace Corps—which he turned into the Sport Corps—to Indonesia. During the same era, he played a central role in the founding of the South East Asia (SEA) Games.
In 1966, he founded Olympia Sport Village in northern Wisconsin, which was used for winter sports training by Olympic athletes from all over the world. Dr. Rosandich also established the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in 1971, which is still run to this day.
After serving as the Director of Athletics for University of Wisconsin–Parkside and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for nearly 10 years, he founded the United States Sports Academy, “America’s Sports University.” Begun to upgrade the profession of sport, the Academy has remained the only free-standing school of sport in America since its inception in 1972.
Today, it is the largest graduate school of sport education in the world. It offers regionally accredited sport degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.
In 1984 as part of the Academy, Dr. Rosandich founded the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), located on the Academy campus. Today, it is arguably the largest collection of sport art in the world with more than 1,700 pieces. Also in 1984, he established the Academy’s Awards of Sport, which annually honors people who have made significant contributions to sport in various fields.
Dr. Rosandich holds some 40 decorations of merit from a wide-range of groups. Among them are the highest distinctions awarded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The IOC presented the Olympic Order to Dr. Rosandich in 1997 and the USOC presented its President’s Medal to him in 2000. He has served on the IOC Culture and Olympic Education Commission since 1999.
In 2008, Dr. Rosandich received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from NECO (formerly the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations). The nonprofit annually honors U.S. citizens of various ethnic backgrounds in homage to the immigrant experience. Others who have received the Ellis Island medal include six U.S. presidents, Nobel laureates, business leaders, and sports figures such as Muhammad Ali and Arnold Palmer.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.