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George E. Killian, 93, former ECC basketball coach and NJCAA executive

April 6, 1924 - Dec. 7,  2017

George E. Killian, a former Erie Community College men's basketball coach who served as the first executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association, died Thursday in Glendale, Ariz., at the age of 93.

Mr. Killian was a basketball coach and athletic director at Erie Community College from 1954 until 1969 until he left for the NJCAA executive director job, the NJCAA said.

The NCJAA is the governing body of intercollegiate athletics for two-year colleges, and Mr. Killian is regarded by many as one of the most influential leaders in the association's history. He is credited by those who knew him with practically building the NCJAA from the ground up, while also championing the cause of the two-year college student-athlete.

Mr. Killian is a member of the ECC Athletic Department's Hall of Fame, said Peter Jerebko, current athletic director at ECC.

"He was a very impressive man. He established a lot of things while he was here at Erie Community College," Jerebko said.

"He was founding father of what we do here at with our Erie Community College athletics program, and very formative with what he was able to accomplish at NJCAA as this first executive director," Jerebko added.

In 1967, he was elected president of the NJCAA. Two years later was appointed the organization's first executive director, a post he held until 2004. During his time at ECC, Mr. Killian also took up duties as editor of the JUCO Review, the official magazine of the NJCAA.

According to those who knew him, it was Mr. Killian's vision, dedication, and leadership that helped establish the NJCAA as the second-largest national collegiate athletic organization in the U.S. He also played a significant part in enabling the organization to provide athletic and academic opportunities to student-athletes.  In addition, Mr. Killian helped lift the NJCAA's men's basketball championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, to national prominence.

The 1955-56 Erie Community College men's basketball team and its coach, George Killian, on the right. (Provided by NJCAA)

It was also under his leadership and vision that the NJCAA became the first national collegiate athletic organization to add women's athletics in 1975. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and National Collegiate Athletic Association followed the NJCAA's lead in 1980 and '81, respectively.

Two years later after he retired from the NJCAA, the association commissioned the George E. Killian Award of Excellence in his honor, and it is now awarded annually to members of the NJCAA Board of Directors who embody the ideals of voluntarism, achievement, service, leadership, and excellence that Mr. Killian fostered.

From 1990 to 1998, Mr. Killian  also served as the president of  the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the global governing body of basketball. He was a prominent member of the board of directors for USA Basketball for 26 years, and also served on the U.S. Olympic Committee's Board of Directors from 1967-2004.  Mr. Killian was a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1996 to 1998. In 1999, he was elected president of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and served two terms before resigning in 2011.

Memorial plans for Killian have not been set, according to the NJCAA, which will announce further plans for honoring his legacy at a later date.


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