A Tribute to Alan White
This coming May we will say farewell to a campus leader who has guided Elon’s intercollegiate athletics program through unprecedented change. Through transitions from NAIA to Division II, then to Division I in the Big South and later membership in the venerable Southern Conference, Alan White’s solid leadership and absolute integrity have been constants. Following Alan’s announcement last fall of his retirement as athletics director, we’ve been careful to talk about finding his successor, not his replacement. No one can replace Alan White.
Alan has been much more than the athletics director at Elon, of course. He has been a coach, a professor, a member of the senior staff, and a wise and trusted colleague across campus and to many throughout the nation. This is indeed a rare combination of talents to find in an AD. It is even rarer for these talents to have been given in loyal service to a single institution for more than three decades.
With Alan White at the helm, we could always assume that the solid basics of an athletics program would be in place. Academic success of student-athletes would be a priority. Social and academic honor codes would be valued. Coaches and athletics staff would be integral parts of the Elon community, not separate from it. This is the foundation upon which intercollegiate athletics at Elon is constructed, and we owe Alan White our deepest appreciation and respect for living these values daily.
Of course, Alan has been buoyed and supported in all aspects of his life by the beautiful person who is his wife, Norma Rose. A gifted educator in her own right, Norma’s embrace of student-athletes and the Elon University family has been wide and loving. Unfailingly friendly, kind, outgoing and diplomatic, Norma’s own impact on Elon athletics has been inestimable. She has cheered the Fighting Christians and the Phoenix in literally thousands of contests. Not one to have ever met a stranger, Norma embodies the friendly and hospitable spirit of Elon. (Christmas at the Lamberts begins with the arrival of Norma’s warm homemade brownies and chocolate-covered coconut balls, some of the finest treats we have ever tasted!)
Fortunately for Elon and Burlington, Alan and Norma plan to remain part of our community. Alan has recently been invited to join the board of the Alamance Regional Medical Center. And we know, after years of keeping up with almost nightly events for Elon’s 17 intercollegiate teams and a program that is active 12 months of the year, that they look forward to spending more time with their son, Kyle, daughter in- law, Amy, and their two active grandsons. I am especially happy that Alan and Norma will be able to enjoy time ahead in the wonderful facilities Alan has been instrumental in building — Koury Center, Rhodes Stadium, Latham Park, Belk Track and White Field, and many others — as two of our best Phoenix fans.
Alan White is testimony to what a difference three and a half decades of loyalty, hard work, long hours and unending commitment can make. He has changed Elon profoundly and for the better. I hope that sometime between now and the end of May, you will find a way to offer a quiet, but heartfelt “thank you.”
Leo M. Lambert
Lambert is chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletic Certification and a member of the NCAA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division One Athletics.