June 13, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Justin Doherty, the associate athletic director for external relations at the University of Wisconsin, was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame June 14 at the group's annual convention in Orlando.
Doherty is a recipient of CoSIDA's Arch Ward Award (an annual recognition of the top Division I athletics communication professional) and has a legacy of tremendous service to CoSIDA. As a member of the CoSIDA Board of Directors for 10 years, he served as CoSIDA president in 2009-10, and has been a big proponent of the growth and strategic initiatives of the organization in the last few years.
Story by Mike Lucas, UWBadgers.com
When Justin Doherty took his first job in college sports information ...
The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) - recently renamed the College Football Playoffs - was still eight years from coming into play.
Mark Zuckerberg, a co-founder of Facebook, was six years old.
Nick Saban was in his first season as a head coach.
Mike Krzyzewski had yet to win his first national championship.
Die Hard 2, Back to the Future III and Rocky V were released.
Doherty took his first job in college sports information in 1990.
After a brief stint as the sport editor of a five-day-a-week newspaper in Marshall, Mich., 13 miles outside of Battle Creek, Doherty was hired as an assistant sports information director at Northern Michigan University.
It was a much different world then. Doherty had a much different view of his role, too, much different than he does today, 24 years later, as a member of the 2013 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame class. Doherty will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on June 14 at the 2013 CoSIDA Orlando Convention in June.
Doherty, 47, now associate athletic director for external relations at the University of Wisconsin, has evolved over the years and, much to his delight, so has the organization, CoSIDA.
"When I started out at Northern Michigan, I did a lot of sitting at my computer compiling game notes and statistics for the hockey team,'' said Doherty, a 1988 Michigan State graduate. "Those were necessary functions then as they are now. But I don't think I saw a bigger-picture role for myself.
"A lot of what has changed over the years is how the CoSIDA membership views itself and therefore because it views itself differently hopefully others in college athletics view CoSIDA differently.''
To this point, Doherty said, "It's about getting the membership to look at itself as not only statisticians and people who do game notes but as people who should have a `seat at the table' for their role as public and media relations professionals who bring a greater value to their athletic directors, coaches, student-athletes and universities as a whole."
Doherty has been one of the driving forces behind moving the organization in that direction. "There was a group of us that were kind of like-minded,'' he said, sharing the credit.
Melding his vision with others in the officer rotation - Doherty has been a member of the Board of Directors for 10 years and served as president in 2009-2010 - there was momentum for change.
It's no coincidence, then, that the CoSIDA national convention (June 12-15) and the NACDA & Affiliates convention (June 10-15) are overlapping at the World Marriott Center in Orlando, Fla.
"The CoSIDA convention was always held separately from where everybody else in college athletics met,'' said Doherty. "So for the first time CoSIDA is now a part of that group this summer.''
Meshing and exposing the organization to the marketing, development and event management people, not to mention the athletic directors, has been precedent setting, Doherty acknowledged.
"If you want to learn from and network with the decision-makers,'' he said, "and be among the people you're working with year-round, rather than being off by ourselves, it was important to be with these groups.''
Doherty was also among those CoSIDA members who pushed for hiring an executive director, a full-time advocate and fund-raiser. John Humenik has held that title since January of 2008.
Doherty and Humenik are generally on the same side of the debate. Both are CoSIDA Arch Ward Award winners, an annual honor recognizing the top athletics communications professional in the university (Division I) division. "He has been a big proponent of CoSIDA doing a lot of things we're doing now,'' Doherty said.
On how the membership may view itself and the future, Doherty noted, "It's just a continuing evolution and you need to have people in CoSIDA who want to be a part of the bigger picture.
There are some that have definitely seen it that way for years and there are some that are probably in a little bit of a wait-and-see. I'm sure there are some that think it's not the right thing.''
While insisting that coming up with great stats and informative game notes is still part of the job, Doherty underlined the importance of evolving with technology, embracing new concepts and contributing to the overall communications strategy for the athletic department.
Beyond committing to more professional development, on-line and webinar elements, for example, Doherty sees CoSIDA "becoming more of a 365-day-a-year organization.''
That would entail meeting on a more regular basis with the NCAA's leadership and NACDA and "having the membership of CoSIDA seeing itself as pieces and parts of that bigger picture,'' Doherty said. "I think those who have accepted leadership roles with CoSIDA in recent years would say they see great progress in this regard. And it's still evolving."
Doherty has come a long way since 1990 when he left Marshall for Marquette where he was the media relations contact during Northern Michigan's run to an NCAA title in hockey, a Doherty passion.
Living out his Walter Mitty/Gordie Howe fantasy, Doherty still laces up the blades and competes in a veterans (aka Mostly Old Dudes) league with players ranging in age from their mid-40s to mid-60s.
The pool consists of about 25 hockey enthusiasts that choose up teams and play a couple times a week all year round.
When asked if he would trade his CoSIDA Hall of Fame induction for the chance to skate one shift with his beloved Detroit Red Wings, he said that he had to think about it. He was kidding.
The CoSIDA honor is obviously meaningful to Doherty because of the company that he's now keeping. Over the years, he has been influenced by many whose names are on the Hall of Fame roster.
That dates back to his Michigan State undergrad days and Nick Vista and Fred Stabley, whose son, Fred, Jr., the former Central Michigan sports information director, is also in the 2013 Hall of Fame class.
Doherty crossed paths, at one stage or another, with Northern Michigan's Gil Heard, North Dakota's Lee Bohnet and Wisconsin's Jim Mott and Tam Flarup and each Hall of Famer left their mark.
That would be true of so many others, including Humenik, Jim Pinar (who hired Doherty at Northern Michigan) and Steve Malchow, the former UW sports information director, who hired Doherty and recruited him to be the best man in his wedding.
"It would be really hard to pick out just one person who's had the biggest influence - that's kind of difficult,'' Doherty said. "A lot of people affect you in a lot of different ways.''
And he's most grateful for the opportunity to thank them in Orlando.