CHARLOTTE -- Dr. Edward M. "Dick" Singleton, the first commissioner of the Big South Conference from 1983-89, was recognized on Thursday as the first recipient of the Big South Conference Leadership Award as part of the league's 25th Anniversary Kickoff Banquet.
Unable to attend due to health reasons, the man who succeeded him as commissioner in 1989, Buddy Sasser, accepted the award on his behalf.
The award, which has been named after Dr. Singleton, was created as part of the Big South's "Developing Leaders Through Athletics" initiative to recognize a former Big South student-athlete or administrator who has exhibited exemplary leadership and character during their career.
Born in Bucksport, Dr. Singleton graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1949, earned his master's degree in education in 1956 and his doctorate in education administration in 1971.
After more than 30 years in public education, Singleton was hired as the Big South Conference's first commissioner in 1983. He oversaw the Big South's first year of competition in the fall of 1984, and in September 1986, the Big South Conference was granted full-fledged NCAA Division I status. He started the league with just five men's sports but later instituted the addition of women's basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, golf and volleyball and eventually increased the league's sports sponsorship to 12.
His time also included the Big South's first-ever basketball program -- men's or women's -- to appear in a postseason tournament when Radford's women's basketball team was invited to the National Women's Invitational Tournament.