Ulrich to guide league of his own

December 21, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Former Western Maryland College sports information director Steve Ulrich is looking forward to his reaffiliation with the school that gave him his first full-time position.

Ulrich, 32, SID at Yale University, was named commissioner of the newly formed Centennial Conference last month.

The league will kick off next Sep- tember and consists of nine schools -- many from the present Middle Atlantic Conference -- with 21 championship sports involved.

Joining Western Maryland will be Johns Hopkins, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Dickinson, Washington College, Ursinus, Muhlenberg, Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr.

The Lancaster, Pa., native became SID at Western Maryland in the spring of 1983 after graduating from Franklin & Marshall in 1982 and then taking an internship at Dartmouth.

"I worked with a lot of great people, and it was a great start," Ulrich said.

"I remember showing my wife, Marcy, around the area and she fell in love with it from the beginning. It was a positive experience and gave me a shot at Division I." Ulrich recalled a few Western Maryland tales that came with the territory of being SID, such as his weekly attempts to publicize a football team that went 0-9 in 1985. As a publicist, he called that "his greatest learning experience."

And then there was the Gettysburg-Western Maryland lacrosse game in 1983, when fans for both teams erupted in what he described as "full-fledged mayhem."

In June 1986, he moved on to become an assistant SID at Cornell and then fulfilled his goal of becoming a head SID at a Division I school when he accepted the Yale position.

"There was so much enthusiasm playing part of a big-time event," Ulrich said.

"Having 60,000 people watching a Yale-Harvard [football] game is something to see. Basketball against the likes of Duke and Syracuse and seeing 25,000 people watching a basketball game at the Carrier Dome.

"I was just glad to have had the experience and see what that's like.

Now, it's time to move on and try something new. I'm just a small-town country boy going back to the country."

Ulrich officially will step down from his post at Yale on Dec. 31 and will begin preparing for the Centennial Conference's debut next fall. As commissioner, he will work as a liaison between the different schools' athletic directors and presidents, along with dealing with the NCAA and public relations.

"The exciting thing is that we are building something from scratch, yet it's also frightening in a way because we're at ground level and no precedence has been set," Ulrich said.

"It's a challenge I'm really looking forward to. There are some great institutions involved who have excelled in athletics while maintaining the same excellence in academics. It's really a great mix."

He added: "Our first goal is name recognition. We're hoping some day people will recognize schools like Haverford or Johns Hopkins as being from the Centennial Conference in the same respect in which they can name of all the different Ivy League schools.

"Secondly, we're going to try to increase awareness to these schools and to attract more students to them."

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