May 11, 2004
Jerry Kingston arrived on the job as faculty athletics representative at Arizona State during a tumultuous period of off-the-field issues.
He leaves after 17 years with the athletic department more compliant with NCAA rules but facing different challenges in managing eligibility issues.
Kingston, 62, turns over the faculty rep duties to Myles Lynk on July 1 with the knowledge his successor should: 1, "be the one person (who) should know academic eligibility rules more than anyone else; 2, expect a decreased role; and 3, be a good listener."
"I'm ready to go back to a quieter life," said Kingston, a professor of economics who will return full-time to academic duties and is looking forward to working in the business school advising more than 100 liberal arts economics majors. "It's going to be fun to be a part of that."
His last major assignment as faculty rep will be determining which ASU athletes need to attend summer school to maintain their eligibility.
It was a volatile eligibility issue that had rocked the campus in 1987 when Kingston was appointed faculty rep.
Overruling then-faculty rep Marianne Jennings, ASU president J. Russell Nelson had restored the eligibility of linebacker Stacy Harvey.
Jennings resigned in protest.
Jennings' ruling was one of several reasons football coach John Cooper, who had guided ASU to its first Rose Bowl in 1986, left for Ohio State six weeks after an outside review of the decision backed Jennings and criticized Nelson.
"It was an awkward time," Kingston said. "My predecessor resigned. There was no transition period. There was no time to learn the job."
Then a mere two weeks into his tenure, the Pac-10 informed ASU the track program was being investigated for rules violations. The rookie faculty rep had to prepare ASU's response to the allegations, which resulted in a two-year probation, sanctions and the firing of coach Clyde Duncan.
"It was painful," he said, "but a high-speed education."
It also became a full-time endeavor. Nelson and university president Lattie Coor "significantly reduced" his academic responsibilities to deal with ASU, Pac-10 and NCAA issues.
Dealing with controversial issues isn't the primary role of the faculty rep. He is the liaison between the athletics and academic communities. The majority of his contact with the athletic department is with student services, which oversees academics and compliance, and the athletic director.
"My (primary) interest is the student athlete," Kingston said of the faculty rep's role. That means "looking out for their academic well being. You're looking out for their ability to be a part of the broader student body here."
Kingston became a national representative for ASU, leading the NCAA's academic reform.
He chaired the NCAA committee that revised the original 1986 Proposition 48 eligibility legislation to include a sliding scale for GPA and test scores, and two more college preparatory courses.
Asked what he considered his most significant accomplishments at ASU he listed two: establishing policies that give athletes priority in scheduling, and allows athletes to make up missed class time and exams because of travel.
"It's been a great experience," he said.