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Gary D. Walters is an American athlete, coach, athletic administrator and business man, best known for being a former point guard for Princeton in NCAA basketball, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated,1 chairing the NCAA's Division I Men's Basketball Committee in 2007, and currently serving as the Director of Athletics at Princeton University where he is nationally known for creating an academically integrated culture of "Education Through Athletics."2
Gary D. Walters graduated from Princeton University in 1967 with a BA degree in Psychology. He co-authored, with Psychology Professors Marlin Karlins and Thomas Coffman, a study entitled "On the Fading of Social Stereotypes: Studies in Three Generations Of College Students", which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1969. This study has become widely cited in social psychology research as being a part of the “Princeton Trilogy,” sequential studies that focused on ethnic stereotyping.
Walters played point guard for Princeton on the 1965 NCAA Final Four men’s basketball team led by Bill Bradley. Walters was himself featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with teammate Chris Thomforde in February 1967, while leading that year’s team to a 25-3 record and a No. 5 ranking in the final national polls.
A clever dribbler and passer, this extremely fast point guard played for Hall of Fame Coach Pete Carril at Reading H.S.(Pa.). At Princeton, Walters was a three-time letterwinner, a three-time All-Ivy selection, honorable mention A.P. All-America, recipient of the team’s B.F. Bunn Trophy and first-team U.P.I. ”Small American” (for players 5-10 and under). His college coach, Butch Van Breda Kolff, said Walters was one of the smartest players he ever coached.
Shortly after his undergraduate playing days concluded, Walters became the youngest head basketball coach in NCAA history in 1970, when he took over the duties at Middlebury College. He then spent three years as head coach at Union College (where he coached All-American Jim Tedisco, a member of the New York State House of Representatives) and was named the New York Division III Coach of the Year, before returning to Princeton as Pete Carril's assistant coach in 1973, where he helped coach the Tigers to the 1975 NIT championship. Walters also served as head coach at both Dartmouth College3 (and named New England Coach of the Year in 1976) and Providence College. In 1980 Walters was selected to coach at the U.S. Olympic Trials. He also served as a color analyst on Big East men’s basketball telecasts in the 1980s and 1990s.
Walters joined Kidder, Peabody & Co. in 1981 as an investment representative. He left as a senior vice president and partner in 1990 to become senior partner of Woolf Associates Sports Management in Boston. He subsequently became managing director of Seaward Management, a Boston-based investment advisory firm, in 1992.
He was a three-year participant in the executive education program sponsored by the Securities Industry Association conducted at the Wharton School of Business. While at Kidder he served for three years, one as chair, on the New England NASD District Business Conduct Committee, the regulatory body responsible for enforcing security regulations in over-the-counter markets.
Walters has been the Director of Athletics at his alma mater since June 1994. Princeton teams have won 28 national championships in his first 18 years as director of athletics. During that time Princeton has fielded 33 teams in Ivy League sports, and 31 of those have won at least one league championship.
In addition, 35 of the 38 Princeton varsity teams have played in postseason championship competition. Princeton teams in six different sports have competed in the NCAA Final Four since he became AD, including four in the calendar year of 2004, tying Princeton with UCLA and Stanford for the most in Division I.
Walters has led an athletic department that has won the Ivy League’s unofficial all-sports standings every year of his tenure and had, as of the end of the 2011-12 academic year, won 202 Ivy League championships, 76 more than the second-best Ivy school since he became AD.
Princeton produced three national champions in 2011-12 (the men's squash team, epee fencer Jonathan Yergler and steeplechase runner Donn Cabral). Princeton also had 17 Olympians who won a total of seven medals at the 2012 Summer Games in London, for a total that would have ranked 31st had Princeton been a country.
In 2008, sportsillustrated.com ranked the Princeton intercollegiate athletic program as the 13th best in the nation, an honor that is particularly noteworthy because no other non-scholarship school was in the rankings.
Princeton finished in the Top 25 in the NACDA Directors’ Cup in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2002, making Princeton the only non-scholarship school ever to do so. Princeton has been the highest-finishing non-scholarship school every year but one in the history of the Directors’ Cup. Led by four NCAA tournament teams and two Final Four teams, Princeton reached as high as No. 2 in the fall 2009 rankings.
Princeton finished 39th in the 2011-12 Directors' Cup standings and was the only FCS school in the Top 50.
Walters’ leadership of the athletic department has been acclaimed and nationally profiled in such journals as Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Sports Business Journal, Athletic Management, The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal and Athletic Business Magazine. In 2008, Walters was named one of "The 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America" by the Institute of International Sport. And, in 2008, Walters received two prestigious professional awards: He was named the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors (NACDA) Athletic Director of the year; and he received the General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director Award from the All-American Football Foundation. In recognizing Walters, NACDA stated that Gary "has established his voice as one of the most respected in college athletics," an acknowledgement of the leadership role he has played in speaking to and promoting the concept of "Education Through Athletics," Princeton's athletic mission.
Walters has also been active in the national leadership of college basketball through his role on the College Basketball Partnership, an initiative of NCAA president Myles Brand that was led by and featured major Division I coaches, administrators and stakeholders. He also was appointed to the prestigious NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee in 2002 and was elected Chair of the committee for the 2006-07 season. In 2009 Walters was appointed to the NCAA Men's Basketball Issues Committee and in 2012 he was appointed to the NCAA Leadership Council. During his lengthy tenure at Princeton, he has twice chaired the Ivy League Administration Committee.
Princeton University has twice honored Walters in recent years. In 2007 he received the Princeton Varsity Club Award of Merit and in 2012 the Princeton Class of 1967 recognized his 18 years of loyal and distinguished service to the University by presenting him with the Class's Loyal Service Award.
Under Walters, the Princeton athletic program has become nationally recognized for its commitment to "Education Through Athletics."
Walters has adopted an athletic leadership philosophy based on the ideals of educational values and character-based coaching. Inspired by the mentorship role played by Sociology Professor, Marvin Bressler, during the legendary career of Head Coach Pete Carril, Walters created the Princeton Academic-Athletic Fellows program, which links academic, athletic and social pursuits by identifying faculty members and administrators to serve in mentorship roles for all 38 teams respectively at Princeton. Moreover, Walters has championed the integration of the academic and athletic missions, aligning the athletic department with the goals and values of the Office of the Dean of the College
Walters also created the Princeton Varsity Club, a unique support group geared toward providing broad-based assistance for the Tigers’ 38 intercollegiate teams while stressing the ideals of "Performance, Values and Community." The PVC’s Board of Directors consists of some of the most respected names in the Princeton athletic family, and among its other endeavors has been the launching of the PVC-Jake McCandless Speaker Series that was inaugurated with an address at Princeton by then NCAA president, Myles Brand.
In addition to on-field success in sports, Walters has overseen a necessary renovation of athletic facilities, most notably the demolition of Palmer Stadium and the building of Princeton Stadium and Weaver Track and Field Stadium in its place. Other projects have included the construction of the Class of 1952 Stadium, new squash courts in Jadwin Gym, the addition of 16 locker rooms to the Caldwell Field House and the renovation and expansion of the boathouse to the Shea Rowing Center. In 2008, Princeton constructed Roberts Stadium, a $14 million soccer facility, which is considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest, soccer pitch in intercollegiate competition. And, in 2011, the Lenz Tennis Center was completely upgraded and the Cordish Family Pavilion, which over-looks the tennis courts, was dedicated. A redesign of the Class of 1952 Stadium, which includes construction of a separate field hockey facility on Bedford Field, is currently underway.
Walters has spearheaded and implemented a gender-neutral compensation structure for coaches and undertaken management responsibilities for the University’s Office of Athletic Communications and Office of Athletic Relations. Among his other projects have been the planning and organization of the 1996-97 Faculty Symposia on Athletics and the development of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to better integrate athletics into the University community.
He has also seen six members of his administrative staff become collegiate Directors of Athletics or Division I conference commissioners; most recently Michael Cross was appointed AD at Bradley in January 2010.
Walters has served two terms as the chairman of the Ivy Committee on Administration and is an ethics fellow for the Institute of International Sport. He also is a member of the advisory board for the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern.