Mary Ellen Leicht
Mary Ellen Leicht became just the third Executive Director in NJCAA history when the organization's Executive Committee selected her for the position on July 10, 2009. Her selection made history as she became the first female to serve as Executive Director of the NJCAA. She also became the first female chief executive of any national intercollegiate athletic association in the United States.
Leicht oversees all business and day-to-day operations of the second-largest intercollegiate athletic association in the country. The NJCAA is the only national governing body of intercollegiate athletics for two-year colleges and its current membership of 520 institutions is second only to the NCAA.
A 23-year veteran of the NJCAA, Leicht stepped into the organization in 1989 serving as an Eligibility Administrator and was quickly promoted to Associate Executive Director. She has led many of the organization's most challenging initiatives, which resulted in more efficient and effective regulations. She assisted with the development of a divisional competition structure for 28 different sports and was instrumental in the comprehensive overhaul of eligibility regulations. Leicht also directed the implementation of the association's current online eligibility and letter of intent program.
She has championed improvements in equity of sports seasons, scholarships, and contests as well as qualifying standards for NJCAA championship events.
Each academic year, nearly 60,000 student-athletes compete in 28 different NJCAA sports. Over 3,500 teams competed during the 2010-11 academic year in the NJCAA and the association held 48 national championship events. Thus, the organization and its member institutions offer many opportunities for student-athletes to learn, compete and succeed. Under Leicht's direction the focus of the organization will continue to be on the student-athlete.
"The NJCAA fulfills a unique niche in the higher education landscape," adds Leicht. "We (NJCAA) provide opportunities to individuals who may not have been able to further their academic and athletic careers due to family ties, economics or a myriad of other reasons. There is a long list of professional and Olympic athletes who got their careers started at an NJCAA institution, which speaks to the high level of competition experienced within our organization."
"Looking into the future, the NJCAA will continue to showcase those stories which reflect the two-year college experience, not just athletically but also academically as well as from a community service standpoint. In addition, the association will continue to look at legislation which gives the two-year college student-athlete the best opportunity for success on the field of play as well as in their future life endeavors."
Leicht was a four-year letter winner in basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, receiving a B.B.A. in business administration. She went on to obtain a M.S. in sports administration from the University of New Mexico and spent a year with the High Country Athletic Conference before joining the NJCAA staff in 1989.
Email: Mary Ellen Leicht