Clark Atlanta University (CAU) has appointed J. Lin Dawson as the institution's Director of Athletics. Dawson has been on the job since November 18 according to a press release from the school. The former New England Patriot brings more than 20 years of administrative, academic and entrepreneurial experience to the CAU program. Dawson comes to Clark Atlanta from Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City, N.C., where he has served as interim director of Athletics since 2013. In this new role, he will oversee the University’s NCAA Division II athletic program compliance, budgeting, operations, advancement, student-athlete recruitment and professional staffing and development. He also will serve as a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet.
Dawson attended North Carolina State University and earned the B.S. degree in speech and communications from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. He completed the MBA degree in human resource management/learning and knowledge management from Walden University in 1993, and is presently a Ph.D. student in Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership’s organizational leadership program.
“In Lin Dawson, we have found an individual of unimpeachable character who personifies the highest ideals of sportsmanship, competitiveness, academic excellence and administrative effectiveness,” CAU President Ronald A. Johnson said. “His career path and record of servant leadership enliven our aim to mobilize for the future by producing student athletes who are well rounded, successful on the field and in the classroom and fully capable of applying the values of fair play, mental and physical discipline and hard work to their pursuit of academic, personal and career goals.”
Dawson, who in 1981 was drafted in the eighth round by the New England Patriots, filled the first-string tight end position and was an integral offensive presence for 10 seasons, including1986 AFC Championship and Super Bowl XX appearances. Following an NFL career that spanned 10 seasons and included an AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance in 1986, Dawson was among the nation’s first to design and implement leadership diversity programs for collegiate athletic programs and professional sports, elevating programming in more than 40 major universities and professional sports.
Dawson’s reputation as an efficient program builder is well-deserved. While director of athletics at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) (2000-2003), he initiated the Life Skills Program for student-athletes, increased athletic scholarships by 40 percent, eliminated a previous administration’s budget deficit and maintained the conference's best corporate partnership program. As Grambling State University’s (GSU) athletics director and special assistant to the president (2008-2011), he was awarded the Commissioner's Cup for having the best athletic program in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2010 and increased corporate sponsorship revenues by 400 percent. His teams won several conference championships, including National Black Champions in Football (2009). He also initiated a new fundraising program resulting in increased alumni and fan support, and he created the Port City Football Classic, which produced net revenues of $700,000 in its first year. His leadership experience also includes service as associate athletics director at VCU (2005-2006) and associate director of training and education at Northeastern University (1991-1994).