Little known Black History fact: Dr. James Frank
Submitted by Clifton E. Johnson
Dr. James Frank was the first Black President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Dr. Frank is also the former Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner. He began his educational career when he was awarded a four-year basketball scholarship to Lincoln University in Missouri, eventually becoming captain of the basketball team.
After graduation, Dr. Frank served two years as a first lieutenant in the Army Corp of Engineers before earning a master’s in education from Springfield College in Massachusetts. In the early 1970’s, Dr. Frank served as Dean of Students and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.
He later served as assistant basketball coach at Lincoln University before being named head coach and ultimately the college’s President. He was the first Black alumnus of Lincoln University in Missouri to be-come President of the college.
Due to Dr. Frank’s efforts, the NCAA became more inclusive of women’s sports. Dr. Frank first served as secretary-treasurer before taking the office of the President. He believed during his tenure that “’separate but equal’ does not lead to equality.”
He led the NCAA Planning Committee that eventually led to a demographic change in Association leadership. Dr. Frank was named one of the NCAA’s 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes and in 2007, he won the NCAA’s prestigious Gerald R. Ford Award as well.