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Publish date: Oct 26, 2010

Note: This article appears in the Fall 2010 issue of NCAA Champion Magazine.

NCAA put a Price on enforcement

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
NCAA.org

Enforcement head David Price will retire December 1.

In a few months, someone else will be turning on the lights at the NCAA.

Enforcement head David Price will retire December 1. A self-described “Type A” morning person, Price rises between 3 and 3:30 a.m. and arrives at work within an hour or two, a lifestyle that may not fit well with retirement.

“It’s going to be a big change,” he said. “I’ve wondered what I’m going to do.”

He’s always found something to do, ever since graduating from Oklahoma in the 1960s and coming to work for the NCAA in a tiny room he shared with Wiles Hallock and now-NACDA Executive Director Mike Cleary. He said the trio jammed into a small, smoke-filled office, thanks to Cleary’s penchant for cigars.

As the Association’s first publications editor, Price worked with Hallock to create The NCAA News. He handled media at the College World Series, and he was the NCAA’s representative to the 1965 Grantland Rice Bowl, the first game in the South between a predominantly white school (Ball State) and a historically black institution (Tennessee State).

When a job opened in sports information at his alma mater, Price moved back to the office where he had interned for three years. He then spent five years at the Western Athletic Conference, working for a while under Executive Director Hallock. Hallock moved to what was then called the Pacific-8 Conference in 1971, and soon sought Price to run the league’s public relations office. It was a decision Price struggled to make. He enjoyed his work with the WAC; he and his family had made a home in Denver; and he worried he was defining his career by simply following Hallock.

Hallock was returning Price to the airport after the interview when the pair heard someone start yelling for Hallock.

“It was (sports broadcaster) Curt Gowdy. When Wiles said he was trying to convince me to come work for him, Curt said, ‘Well, that’s a no-brainer,’ ” Price said. “So I went to the Pac-8.”

He never regretted it.

After seven years, he had a brief stint as commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference but went back to the Pac-10 a few years later. He points proudly to how the Pac-10 processed major infractions cases. His work with that program eventually brought him back to the NCAA, this time in 1998 as vice president of enforcement. When he returned to the national office, the staff had grown from 12 people to more than 300.

“Now we have 43 people just in enforcement,” he said. “This is a great place to work, both now and then. There were stars in my eyes when I came to work here the first time.”

As for the person who succeeds him, Price’s only advice is to treat the first-class enforcement staff with respect and to constantly scrutinize the process to make a good system even better. Price will retire to the West Coast and will, of course, spend more time with his grandchildren. But don’t be surprised if you find him discovering new ways to help the community or even in a courtroom, observing the legal system. 

He won’t leave athletics far behind, either. A family friend is a high school basketball coach in the San Francisco area, so he plans to attend some of those games. And he looks forward to watching college games that tip off at 9 p.m. Eastern.

“Getting up as early as I do, I go to bed early,” he said. “We really look forward to being able to watch the entire game.”