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Note: This article appears in the Fall 2010 issue of NCAA Champion magazine.
By David Pickle
Presidents are accustomed to dealing with all sorts of high and tight pitches, so maybe it’s not so odd that West Chester President Greg Weisenstein finds himself occupying a unique place in NCAA history.
As far as can be determined, Weisenstein is the first institutional chief executive to sit on an NCAA playing rules committee, having begun service this fall on the Baseball Rules Committee.
Presidents more typically are attracted to groups that direct policy and frame legislation. Rules committees generally are the province of coaches, based on their particular knowledge of their games. Weisenstein does have baseball experience, but he's an academic first. It’s an unusual marriage, but a good one as far as committee chair Gary Overton is concerned.
“Having a sitting president serve on the rules committee is an exciting development for the NCAA and the sport of baseball,” he said. “The unique perspective he will bring to the committee will be valuable, and I’m sure our committee will gain immensely from his knowledge and insight.”
Weisenstein has three decades of service in educational administration, but he also has some coaching tucked in his vitae, both in youth leagues and a club team at Montana State.
“I started out by coaching youth baseball, working with young people who were a little bit older,” he said. “When there was an opportunity to coach the Colorado Springs program as it was just getting started, I did that. I went from that to inheriting a head coach position, and that’s what I did when I needed to step in and help a little bit at Montana State.”
West Chester Athletics Director Ed Matejkovic connected the dots earlier this year and nominated his president to the Baseball Rules Committee.
“He’s been involved in athletics all his life,” Matejkovic said. “He wanted to be involved in the NCAA, and we talked about committees and saw the baseball rules opportunity. I told him most presidents didn’t get on sports committees, and he said, ‘I’d like to start out with something I know something about and try to get involved.’ ”
Weisenstein may have known the approach was unusual, but he didn’t know it is likely unique. However, now that he knows he’s probably the first president to serve on a rules committee, he wears the mantle proudly.
“Presidents need to take an active role in the NCAA in whatever division their programs are represented, and this is one way to do that,” he said. “I have an appreciation for the rules and some of the challenges and the debates. Whatever I can add to those kinds of conversations from my experience, I certainly would like to.”
Beginning this fall, he will step up to the plate of committee service, and odds are that he will knock his unique opportunity out of the park.