Thompson becomes the latest HBCU Director of Athletics to receive the honor
In a lavish ceremony at the Orlando World Center Marriott, former B-CU Director of Athletics Lynn Thompson became the latest HBCU Director of Athletics to be honored as a Hall of Famer by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics (NACDA). NACDA is the foremost authority in collaboration of athletics directors in the entire world and the ceremony took place at their 58th convention. NACDA is comprised of 22,000 college athletics administrators at more than 2,200 institutions throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico
Thompson was preceded by three greats who were recognized by NACDA. Nelson Townsend, who served as director of athletics for Delaware State University and Florida A&M, was also athletics director at the University of Buffalo. He made his mark as an athletics director moving Buffalo from Division II to FBS. Walter Reed was longtime athletics director at Jackson State University. He too would spend a stint at Florida A&M. Finally, former MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas was the most recent inductee. Though Thomas went in for his prowess as the MEAC Commissioner, he was also director of athletics at Hampton university.
Thompson, a Daytona Beach, FL. Native, played for the Wildcats. He went on to a brief professional career in the NFL but returned to B-CU to become its youngest athletics director at the age of 31. He would serve 30 years at the helm of B-CU Athletics, elevating to Vice President of Athletics.
Surrounded by family and former co-workers including his longtime Senior Woman Administrator Sandra Booker and former sports information director Michael Stambaugh, Thompson took the stage to represent the capstone of a remarkable run at B-CC which transitioned to B-CU during his tenure.
“Overwhelmed, humbled…yet standing on the shoulders of so many giants who invested in me and proud to represent Bethune-Cookman University, the MEAC, and all of the historically black colleges and universities,” Thompson said. “My daughter Lindsey said it’s not funny when the rabbit is holding the gun. That’s true because my job has always been to shine the light on what other folks have been doing. And now to sit there and listen and to read and to hear the things that people are saying about the things that I’ve done and the things that really satisfied me over the course of my career was a thank you.”
B-CU Co-workers validate Thompson’s vision
Booker and former B-CU softball player Cesley Tafoya were both overjoyed at the opportunity to celebrate with someone that their personal interactions with meant so much to so many. “I couldn’t drive over here fast enough. You’re talking about someone who is so deserving of this, I am so happy for him,” Booker said. “It was real easy to work with him. He’s a man of God, he’s a good person, he’s a great leader so he made it easy to come to work. You wanted to come to work because the vision he had was something we all believed in.”
“This is one thing I had to make sure I was here for. I tell this story all the time, I’ve known Mr. Thompson since I was 16 years old,” Tafoya said. ” I remember taking my visit on that campus, the great Bethune-Cookman University and feeling that family atmosphere that we all talk about. Just being a young Latina woman coming in from Southern California was a whirlwind of an experience. Playing softball and winning three MEAC championships and graduating, the graduate program started and Iwas his first graduate assistant. There was something he saw in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time.”
Arch-rival Rattlers show up to support Lynn Thompson
As a tribute to the amount of respect Lynn Thompson has earned over his career, a contingency of FAMU folks made the trip to Orlando in support of Thompson’s big day. Joe Bullard, the voice of the FAMU Marching “100” and former FAMU Associate Athletics Director Marvin Green made the trip to support Thompson. “Just excited to see this of knowing someone for over 30 years. If you roll the tape, you see we’ve always met at the 50-yard line after the game at the Florida Classic, win, lose or draw,” Bullard said. “Just to see him with his family and the appreciation of the whole room, knowing what he’s done being the mark of Bethune-Cookman.”
“I’m excited for Lynn. He literally is the staple by which athletics directors are measured,” Green said. “Not just among HBCUs but all around the country. When you have someone who worked at his alma mater, is from Daytona, went to school at Bethune-Cookman, what he did to change the program’s culture literally will never be duplicated. At one point he was the youngest AD in the country and then he became the most seasoned AD in the country.”
Lynn Thompson was selected by his peers in NACDA for the body of work he collected while leading the Wildcats to 71 championships, including 54 in the MEAC. He was named the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year by NACDA just prior to the pandemic in 2019-2020.
Thompson now spends his days working on his passion. In the sports realm, that means being a consultant for the MEAC. On the creative side, it involves writing. Thompson has long been a play write, but obviously, with the toils of being an athletics administrator, many of his works had acquired dust. Since resigning from B-CU, Lynn Thompson has revived his passion for liberal arts. His works have quickly drawn acclaim. One of his works has had a read in New York, and Orlando, and is being prepared for a Daytona Beach debut. While at B-CU, anything dealing with the maroon and gold would bring a smile to his face. Nowadays, it’s his writing that acquires his sense of urgency.
The sentiments continued as family and friends gathered to celebrate Thompson’s honor. Former B-CU basketball coach Horace Broadnax also traveled to witness the ceremony.
Thompson is known for his excellence in HBCU Directors of Athletics. He’s said he had a philosophy that his goal was to field a team that would play better, look better and graduate better than any team they played. The plan worked to perfection as during Thompson’s time, the B-CU brand was stronger than ever. The vision of a guy with a liberal arts background somehow wove together sports, marketing and Bethune-Cookman into a package that dominated an era of HBCU sports.