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Many things can be expected for athletic directors heading into a summer conference meeting - long hours with countless topics of business to cover from the past year looking to the next year.
So the 14 hours in a room with all the conference ADs was not a surprise to Georgetown College's Director of Athletics Eric Ward. He was this year's committee chair and starting Tuesday evening after a full days' work, he set his sights on getting 2011-12 prepared before he steps down not only as chair but also as the Tigers AD.
Following a second four-plus hour morning session, the ADs took a lunch break Wednesday with fellow coaches, trainers and sports information directs. It is at this time the Mid-South Conference likes to take a moment to recognize several individuals for their hard work throughout the year.
For the second time in 10 years, Ward was named Athletic Director of the Year.
"It's a nice way to end my 10 year stay at Georgetown," Ward said. "It's an affirmation that after 10 years, I'm still getting the job done."
The award did come as a surprise to the veteran. While he says he does not usually anticipate getting awards like this, the usual winner is the AD of the school that wins the President's Cup - an award given to the school with the most points for championships and top finishes throughout the year.
"I was not expecting this," Ward said of the honor. "The history of the award is that the school that wins the cup is the benchmark for the best athletic program and thus the athletic director of the year. But obviously this year other things were considered. This year was a surprise."
Ward humbly spoke of not really expecting the award in 2005-06 either.
"I don't expect to get awards like this. I don't feel there is anything exceptional about what I do," Ward said. "I go about my job every day, doing what needs to be done. At a small college, running an athletics program is never going to stop being a challenge. You are never going to have enough money to fix the problems, but you do what you have to, making things the best you can possibly make them.
"It is meaningful that my peers recognize what I often take for granted in what I'm doing here at Georgetown. They understand the effort it takes to get things done and it's always nice to be recognized by the people that are in the same situation as you are."
While this award was a surprise and an honor, there is something more with which Ward will hold on to in his 10 years at Georgetown.
"As I looked around the room we met in and at all the faces of people I've come close to, I realized what I was most proud of was the relationships I had built," Ward said. "When I came to Georgetown there was no love loss between Georgetown and Campbellsville. There wasn't much give and take between the two institutions on working together. But, I and CU's AD Rusty Hollingsworth really worked to change that. He is someone I would consider to be a great friend now and I think the relationship between Georgetown and Campbellsville has really improved in our time.
"The championships, the wins, the awards, the numerous All-Americans are nice, but it is the growth in personal relationships that is most satisfying."
Ward's last day at Georgetown is June 30.
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