Former President, NCAA and Athletic Director, Arizona and Houston
As president of the NCAA from 1994 to 2002, Dempsey provided leadership for the more than 1,200 colleges, universities, conferences, and affiliated organizations that comprise the association. During his tenure at the NCAA, he reorganized NCAA Divisions I, II and III into a federated system, so that future presidents would possess legislative authority. He organized key functions of the NCAA (governance, education, marketing, licensing and promotion, legal, administrative, membership services, public affairs, championships, finance and information technology, and human resources) into new streamlined organizational units.
Dempsey is the negotiator of what was then the single largest sports contract in history, a $6.2 billion agreement with CBS for broadcast rights to the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball tournament. He initiated and developed a new campus for the NCAA, including a new office facility, distribution center and a Hall of Champions, moving the national office from Kansas City to Indianapolis.
Prior to joining the NCAA, he was director of athletics at four institutions, the University of Arizona, University of the Pacific, San Diego State University, and the University of Houston.
Throughout his career both as an athletic director and NCAA executive, Dempsey has become widely recognized for his commitments to, and implementation of, ground-breaking innovations in the areas of gender and diversity equity, leadership training, mentoring, empowerment, team-building, and human relations.
Since retiring as president of the NCAA, Dempsey has done extensive collegiate athletic consulting, working with universities throughout the country and the world. He has served as a consultant to the Knight Commission, United States Olympic Committee, Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He was also Higher Education Secretariat, founding director of the Pacific Coast Athletics Conference (now the Big West Conference), chairman of the NCAA Budget Committee, chairman of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, and advisor to the University of Florida System, the California State University System, the Ministry of Sport in Israel, and the Sports Education Programs of Mexico.
A nine-time letter winner in three different sports – football, basketball and baseball – at Albion, Dempsey was named the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player in basketball as a senior in 1954 and was inducted as a charter member of Albion College’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. A recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Albion in 1993, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College in 1995.