Florida A&M names UMES' Nelson Townsend to Athletic
December 20, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- Florida A&M University has named Nelson Townsend as
the school's next Director of Athletics. Townsend, who was introduced during
a news conference on the FAMU campus, comes to Tallahassee from the University
of Maryland Eastern Shore where he had worked in a similar position for the
past three years.
Townsend brings over 29 years of experience as a director of athletics and
as an administrator in education at both the collegiate and secondary levels
to Florida A&M, where he previously served as Director of Athletics from
1986 to 1987.
His overall administrative experience spans athletics, student affairs, educational
support services and secondary education.
"I am looking forward to this opportunity to lead a program like Florida
A&M Athletics with its' tradition of competitive success and national acclaim," Townsend
said on Tuesday.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Thelma B. Thompson, President,
University of Maryland Eastern Shore, expressed her appreciation for Townsend's
efforts and dedication to his alma mater.
"The University of Maryland Eastern Shore appreciates the considerable
contribution Nelson Townsend has made to the Fighting Hawks Intercollegiate
Athletic Program in the past three years. Under his leadership, UMES student-athletes
have continued to excel in the classroom while our respective sports teams
are now poised to show dramatic improvement in the coming seasons. As an alumnus
of UMES, Mr. Townsend has worked tirelessly on behalf of his alma mater. His
successor will be the chief beneficiary of the solid foundation for success
laid by Mr. Townsend. Hawk Athletics are very much on the rise," said
FAMU President, Castell Bryant, also spoke highly of Townsend. "Mr. Townsend
brings the depth and quality of leadership experience which will be critical
to moving our athletic program forward in the coming years. His familiarity
with our program and our conference, not to mention his extensive work on all
levels of sports administration will serve us well, as we seek to elevate FAMU
Athletics to higher levels of competitive excellence," Bryant concluded.
Townsend, in his first official statement to the UMES faithful, spoke in a
recorded interview Tuesday night during the Hawk's men's basketball game at
Brown. In the interview with UMES Director of Broadcasting for Athletics Josh
Maurer, Townsend spoke highly of his time at the school and his mixed emotions.
"This was a turn of events I was not prepared for," Townsend said. "It
had been presented to me some time ago and it was turned down but about a week
ago they made me an offer and I had to take some time and finally said yes
over the weekend.
It has been a thing I am very excited about but have many mixed emotions over," he
"Despite the recent issues involving FAMU Athletics, the program itself
is still poised to achieve great things. Our charge will be to build a consensus
among all aspects of the Florida A&M family and marshal all the resources
necessary to move Athletics forward," Townsend added.
In the interview with Maurer, Townsend stated what would be some of his immediate
actions. "The compliance issue is certainly pending. We have to clean
up from that and face what sanctions the NCAA verdict dictates. After that
we have some marketing to do to get over the stigma of the problems and sell
our program to the community."
Townsend had been serving as Director of Athletics at UMES since January of
2003. He previously served in that post from 1976 to 1979.
Prior to returning to UMES in 2003 as Director of Athletics, Townsend worked
as Director of Collaborative Programs between Salisbury (Md.) University and
UMES, from 2000 until January of 2003.
For 12 years, Townsend served as Director of Athletics at the University of
Buffalo (1987-98), spending the two years after that as Associate Vice President
for Student Affairs (1998-99).
At Buffalo, Townsend worked to move that athletic program from NCAA Division
III to Division I in three-and-a-half years.
While at Delaware State University, he engineered the move of the school's
athletic program from NCAA Division II to Division I.
Townsend has been a leader in the sports and education administration at the
state, national and international levels. He held significant leadership roles
in intercollegiate athletics, international sports and even at the level of
While at the University of Buffalo, Townsend served as chairman of the NCAA
Olympic Liaison Committee. In that role, he was named as an active member of
the United States Olympic Committee.
>From 1991-93, Townsend traveled extensively to such places as Germany,
Canada, Bulgaria, France, England, and Spain in preparation to host the World
University Games in Buffalo in 1993.
The Games, using the University as the major site, marked the only time that
this event has been hosted in the United States. The World University Games
are considered the largest international sports event other than the Summer
Olympics. For his effort and leadership in those games, Townsend was the recipient
of "The Buffalo Achievement Award" in 1993.
Townsend is a native of Horntown, Virginia, where his parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Elijah B. Townsend still reside. He and his wife Diane have five adult children,
Tracy, Lynn, Marc, Eugene and Eboni.