Dr. George E. Uhlig, who is one of the six founding members of the United States Sports Academy in 1972, will receive a Distinguished Service Award for all of his contributions to the university’s academic programs.
As an original member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, Dr. Uhlig continues to serve on the board. He is credited for the Academy relocating from Milwaukee, Wis., to the Mobile, Ala., campus of the University of South Alabama in 1976.
Dr. Uhlig, who served as the dean of the University of South Alabama’s College of Education for 26 years until January 2003, was also an expert in the application of technology in education. He was a strong advocate and supporter of the development and growth of distance learning courses at the Academy.
He is being honored with the award as part of the Academy’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, which is scheduled at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 19 at the current Daphne, Ala., campus. In addition, the Academy will unveil the “Mr. Baseball” sculpture by Fairhope, Ala., artist Bruce Larsen, the Academy’s 2009 Sport Artist of the Year.
Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, an Academy founder and its current president and CEO, credits Dr. Uhlig with the move and says the new location helped make it possible for the sports university to flourish. In 1986, The Academy purchased a permanent campus on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, in Daphne, Ala., which remains its current home today.
“We went to six cities all in the south—San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque (N.M.), Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta,” Dr. Rosandich says. “Then Uhlig said, ‘Why don’t you come to South Alabama?’ We got an invitation and we did.”
Also on the original Board of Directors with Dr. Uhlig was: Mr. Robert Block, media specialist; the late Mr. Charles Cape, attorney; Mr. Gerald Hock, finance; and Dr. Rosandich, sport administrator. Only Dr. Uhlig, Block and Dr. Rosandich continue to serve today.
Dr. Uhlig, who played catcher at the University of Nebraska, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education, met Dr. Rosandich at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dr. Uhlig was the chairman of the Athletic Committee and Dr. Rosandich was the athletic director.
In a recent interview with The Sport Update, the 78-year-old Dr. Uhlig discusses his first meeting with Dr. Rosandich about forming the Academy, Dr. Rosandich’s leadership and the Academy’s move to the Mobile area.
The Sport Update: How did you become involved with Dr. Rosandich and the United States Sports Academy?
Dr. George Uhlig: In 1972, I was elected Athletic Board chairman at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. At that time, we were looking for an AD and one of the names that kept popping up was Rosandich. As a sideline, my father died exactly the same time he came aboard. The first two times I ran into him after he had become our new AD, he was making interesting statements that what people needed was a school of sport. The third time we talked about this I said, ‘Why don’t you start one?’
The Sport Update: How did the relocation of the Academy to the University of South Alabama come about in 1976?
Dr. George Uhlig: The Academy had some options. Tom (Rosandich) had discussions with people in several cities like San Diego and Atlanta. Once I got the education deanship at the University of South Alabama, I went to our president, Dr. Frederick Whiddon, because I knew we had some property available. I told him I thought bringing the Academy down was something we ought to do. I wasn’t sure how he might react but Dr. Whiddon supported it. The Academy almost immediately got its first contract with Bahrain and began building its program and first offices there.
The Sport Update: What do you think of the Academy’s growth and success?
Dr. George Uhlig: When I met Tom (Rosandich), I got to know him and his vision. I admired his energy for this idea. I never had any doubts about it. I was not sure how exactly it would happen but he had my support on it. It was a great idea and is a great idea. It has its place in the nation’s sports development and I think it will continue to succeed. It has come a long way in 40 years, thanks to Tom’s (Rosandich’s) leadership.