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RICHMOND – After a 40-year career in collegiate athletics, including more than three decades as the only commissioner in the history of the Colonial Athletic Association, Tom Yeager announced today that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.
“It has been my privilege and honor to represent the outstanding institutions in the CAA for what will be 31 years,” said Yeager, who is the longest-tenured commissioner of a NCAA Division I conference. “At the conference’s core is our institutions’ unwavering commitment to conduct their athletic programs as a vital component of their students’ educational experience. I am very proud that this commitment has enabled us to create programs and a competitive environment that has enhanced each student’s experience.”
The CAA features 10 member schools, including the College of William & Mary.
During an era of unprecedented change in collegiate athletics, Yeager established the CAA as one of the nation’s most successful conferences athletically and academically. He transformed what was once a Virginia/North Carolina conference into a league with a presence in many of the major metropolitan areas on the East Coast. The current CAA footprint, which runs from Boston to Charleston, S.C., encompasses four of the nation’s top nine media markets.
In his tenure, the conference has produced 19 national team champions in five different sports, 33 individual national champions, 16 national coaches of the year and 17 national players of the year. The league also boasts five Rhodes Scholar student-athletes, 24 NCAA post-graduate scholars and 13 Honda Award winners.
The conference garnered national attention with its success in basketball as George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011) advanced to the Men’s Final Four and Old Dominion (1997) reached the Women’s Final Four. National championships have been won in football by Delaware in 2003, James Madison in 2004, Richmond in 2008 and Villanova in 2009.
“It’s a bittersweet day for the CAA,” said Tim Leonard, Director of Athletics at Towson University and President of the CAA. “Tom Yeager built this league and his name is synonymous with the CAA. While we are all very happy for Tom and his retirement, his leadership, vision and passion will be missed. His longevity as commissioner is a testament to the tremendous job he has done. It has been an honor to be in the league and work alongside Commissioner Yeager.”
Yeager came to the conference office after nine years on the NCAA staff in Kansas City. He joined the NCAA in 1976 as an investigator in the enforcement department. He was promoted to Assistant Director of Legislative Services in 1981 and was named Director of Legislative Services in 1984.
Yeager has been actively involved with NCAA affairs throughout his CAA career. Currently, he is a member of the Committee on Academics, the Football Rules Committee and is a member of the Board of Directors for the NCAA’s College Football Officiating LLC.
Yeager is a former chair of one of the NCAA’s most important committees, the Division I Committee on Infractions, which hears and assesses penalties for violations of NCAA rules. Previously he served as a member of the NCAA Council and chaired the NCAA Interpretations Committee for eight years, in addition to serving on numerous other NCAA committees.
Well‑respected by other commissioners, Yeager is also a former executive vice president of the Collegiate Commissioners Association and was the chair of the National Letter of Intent Steering Committee.