When Bowie State President Dr. Mickey Burnim retires at the end of this academic year the reverberations will be felt throughout the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association for years. During more than three decades at institutions throughout the CIAA Burnim has been at the forefront of helping the conference become one of the elite in NCAA Division II athletics.
Burnim has been a staunch advocate of intercollegiate athletics who provided the blueprint for leadership in stewarding programs throughout the conference. Since his presidency began in 2006 the university’s athletic success has coincided with the improvements in the department’s leadership and the improvement of its facilities.
Burnim’s impact on the conference will be honored when he is inducted as part of the Hall of Fame class of 2017 on Feb. 24 during the CIAA Basketball Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“What I’m most proud of is the CIAA is widely viewed as strongest conference in Division II,” Burnim told the AFRO. “It’s a great honor”.
Bowie State has seen its athletic department infrastructure improve to become one the CIAA’s best. The football stadium has transitioned to include a state of the art field house with new locker rooms and lights allowing for teams to dress at the stadium and host high school and night games.
The school also built a new weight room which has improved the quality of athletic conditioning. A new world class track keeps them on pace with St. Augustine’s University – a consistent national power – that is the benchmark program of the conference.
“He’s a great leader,” Anton Goff, who Burnim hired from the University of Maryland in 2010, and is now the athletic director at St. John’s University, told the AFRO. “I try to pattern a lot of my leadership style after him. If he hadn’t been president at Bowie I probably wouldn’t have taken the job.”
Dr. Burnim’s fingerprints are on the improvements to the basketball arena as well. The upgrades to the facility, including air conditioning and office space for coaches and administrators, have made more appealing. The Bulldogs won their second CIAA Basketball Championship in 2013 and has won football’s north division for the last two years. The program has also won five championships in women’s bowling under his watch.
“He has always understood how athletics could help the university,” said Goff. “He’s unique. His values as a man and a leader aren’t duplicated.”
In addition, Burnim has been a vital cog in growing the brand of the CIAA and protecting its legacy. As chair of the CIAA Council of Presidents he was one of the leaders in helping grow its media presence through national TV and radio deals that are unprecedented in Division II.
He also helped the conference to navigate through the difficult transition after the surprise resignation of former Commissioner Leon Kerry in 2011. Facing a $1.7 million deficit and controversy following misappropriation of funds allegations he stabilized the conference. He oversaw the national search for Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter from the NCAA office.
“People who graduate have loyalty but its sports that brings them back to campus,” said Burnim. “Sports provides a window into university through which alumni can show support and express their pride”.
This year’s class of CIAA Hall of Fame inductees is one of the most noteworthy in its history. Among those joining Burnim in the 2017 class are former NFL running back Richard Huntley from Winston Salem State and Virginia Union’s Terry Davis who played in the NBA. ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, who played basketball for Clarence “Big House” Gaines at Winston Salem State, will also be inducted as a supporter.