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Dr. James Frank To Receive 2001 Distinguished American Award
Complete Release in PDF FormatDownload Free Acrobat ReaderMorristown, NJ - The National Football
Published: 5/16/2001 12:00:00 AM

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Morristown, NJ - The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame announced today that Dr. James Frank has been selected to receive the 2001 Distinguished American Award. Presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character-building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business, and in the community. 

"On behalf of the Awards Committee, and the Board of Directors of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, I am pleased to announce Dr. James Frank as this year's Distinguished American Award recipient," stated National Football Foundation Chairman Jon F. Hanson. "As a teacher, coach, administrator, and commissioner, Dr. Frank's devotion and influential leadership have made lasting contributions in the advancement of intercollegiate athletics." 

The Distinguished American Award will be presented at the College Football Hall of Fame's Enshrinement Dinner in South Bend, Indiana, on August 11, 2001. Dr. Frank will also be a guest of the Foundation and seated on the dais for the 44th Annual Awards Dinner, December 11, 2001, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The Awards Dinner is the highlight of the college football season where the 2001 Hall of Fame Class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and fifteen National Scholar-Athletes will be awarded with over $300,000 in postgraduate scholarships. 


Dr. James Frank is one of few individuals who has risen through the collegiate ranks as a student-athlete, coach, educator, college president, and conference commissioner. During a long and distinguished career of over 40 years, Frank's efforts and influential leadership affected the lives of countless people and resulted in positive change in the many organizations he has served. 

Dr. Frank received a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Lincoln University (MO) in 1953, where he was a standout in basketball, baseball, and track and field. Upon graduation, he served two years as a First Lieutenant in the Corp of Engineers before attending Springfield College (MA) to obtain a Master of Science in Education. His professional career officially began in 1956 when he returned to his alma mater as assistant basketball coach. He was appointed as head coach in 1958, a post he held until 1962, taking teams to four regional NCAA Division II tournament appearances. 

Frank returned to receive his doctorate in 1962 from Springfield College and began teaching and coaching at Hunter College. He went on to serve as Dean of Students and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY, and was instrumental in formulating many of the college's educational and management policies. 

Dr. Frank returned once again to Lincoln University in 1973 to become the school's President - the first Lincoln graduate to hold this position. While the university's president, he also held the secretary-treasury and Presidential offices of the NCAA becoming the first African-American and the first college president to hold these positions. Frank was closely involved in many significant NCAA events in this time including the abolishment of the NCAA television monopoly and the introduction of Proposition 48. He also served on the NCAA Long-Range Planning Committee, Division II Steering Committee, NCAA Nominating Committee, Theodore Roosevelt Award Jury, as well as Chairman of the Organization and Service Committee. 

In 1983, Dr. Frank left Lincoln to become Commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, where under his guidance the conference evolved to rank among the elite in the nation. From 1983-1998, the men and women's sports in the SWAC benefited from his leadership gaining greater national recognition and publicity. The conference is now the top draw for Division I-AA football leading the nation in average home attendance. 

A professional and community minded individual, Frank's compassion and devotion to collegiate athletics and to community service earned him numerous awards and recognitions. He has been inducted into two sports Halls of Fame in his hometown state of Pennsylvania and into the Lincoln University ROTC and National Black College Halls of Fame. He received the Distinguished American Award given by the New Orleans Chapter of The National Football Foundation in 1988 and was presented the Silver Anniversary Award by the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness. In 1998, he was named the James J. Corbett Award winner, the highest award given by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

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