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CSL Daily

June 26, 2008

Alumni Omar Banks earns elite spot in NCAA Leadership Institute

RICHMOND, Va. – He has not yet been a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Athletic Department for two years, but Omar Banks, director of ticket operations at VCU, has already made a name for himself as he earned a spot among just 23 other athletic administrators across the country in the 2008-09 class of the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males and Females.

The NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males and Females is a program where athletic administrators receive enhanced training and acquire skill sets necessary to advance to senior-level positions and leadership roles in athletics.

The program was established in 2001 following a recommendation from the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee to address the critical shortage of senior-level minority females and males in athletics at the campus and conference levels.

Banks joined the Black and Gold in January 2007 and has taken ticket operations to new heights — including setting a new sell-out record for men’s basketball as the Rams saw four sold-out crowds during the 2007-08 campaign.

The Newport News, Va., native came to VCU after two stellar years at Hampton University and a standout football career at the University of Richmond.

He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Richmond and received his Master of Business Administration from North Carolina Central in 2001 and his M.S. in Recreation, Parks and Sport Leadership from the VCU SportsCenter in 2004.

June 11, 2008

VCU grad Michael Curry named head coach of Detroit Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – This time of year there are many graduates, both college and high school, that are being asked the same question, “What are your plans for the future?”

It was the answer to that question that former NBA star and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Michael Curry had in mind when he donned the cap and gown at the 2002 VCU commencement and earned his Master of Science in Recreation, Parks and Sport Leadership from the VCU SportsCenter.

Curry is putting his degree to good work nowadays, as he was introduced yesterday afternoon as the new head coach of the Detroit Pistons, the same team Curry played for six of his 11 seasons in the NBA.

“The VCU family is very excited for Michael as he has reached the pinnacle of his profession,” Interim Director of the SportsCenter, Nathan Tomasini, Ph.D., said. “His advancement in the coaching ranks comes as no surprise, as it was evident during his tenure at the SportsCenter that he possessed the tools necessary to achieve success at the highest level. Michael’s strength of character, focus and communication skills are the epitome of what we strive for in all our students.”

At 39 years old, the Augusta, Ga., native will take over a team that is coming off an appearance in the NBA Eastern Conference finals and he plans to work hard to make sure their elite status stays intact.

“We’re going to be a staff that is going to be here from the summer until the end of the season and will be here for the players to continue to develop and breaking down other teams in the league,” he said. “We’re going to be a hardworking staff from top to bottom.”

Curry becomes the first graduate from the VCU SportsCenter program to be named a head coach on the professional level. Currently, there are 11 alumni of the SportsCenter program serving as head coaches at the collegiate level, including Beth Cunningham, the current head coach of the VCU women’s basketball team.

The SportsCenter, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year, offers a Master of Science in Recreation, Parks and Sport Leadership and an opportunity for many students to learn about the behind-the-scenes action of the sports industry.