Ford Announces Retirement

  • By Michael Fragale
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  • January 28, 2011 03:33 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – After 44 years of service to his alma mater, West Virginia University Associate Athletic Director for Student Services Garrett Ford has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2011.

In his current role, Ford is responsible for providing educational guidance to the hundreds of male and female student-athletes and monitoring their academic progress. He is involved with career and personal counseling of WVU’s student-athletes and works with the certification of athletic eligibility. He is responsible for all areas of academics as WVU athletes work toward their goal of graduation, and he has been instrumental in the development of such projects as the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll, the newly retooled Athletic Academic Performance Center in the WVU Coliseum, the Reynolds Family Academic Performance study area at the Milan Puskar Center and in helping former athletes return to school to complete their degrees.

“In 1978, I was given the opportunity to implement our student services program to help student-athletes adjust to college life. My position has allowed me to assist and guide students in the right direction and that has been very rewarding for me,” Ford said. “I have been able to coach, know and help some outstanding kids over the last 44 years, and I have had a great tenure at WVU. I want to thank the entire University academic community for all its support through the years. We all worked as a team to stress the importance of academic growth.

“I have been able to give back to my alma mater, assist young men and women in their lives and make a difference. It’s hard for me, but the time has come for me to spend more time with my wonderful family.”

Under Ford’s watch, more than 400 student-athletes made the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll last year, while numerous student-athletes received conference and district academic honors. In 2010 alone, 158 student-athletes were named BIG EAST Academic All-Stars.

WVU has had 11 student-athletes named first team Academic All-American during the last seven years, and the school’s APR was at its highest last season with three teams nationally recognized for being in the Top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sport.

“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Garrett for his 44 years of service,” Director of Athletics Oliver Luck said. “He started our student services program back in 1978 which was the same year I entered WVU, and he has led it to numerous academic awards through the years.

“I was a student-athlete here at WVU, and I witnessed first-hand the work and long hours that Garrett and his staff put in for our athletes. He has touched and made a difference in countless lives. Thousands of successful student-athletes at West Virginia University have Garrett Ford to thank for making a difference in their journey.”

Ford joined the Mountaineer staff in 1970 as an assistant football coach for Bobby Bowden. At the time, he was the first African-American assistant coach hired by the school. He was named academic counselor in 1977, assistant athletic director in 1985 and associate athletic director in 2002.

Ford received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from WVU in 1969 and earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from WVU in 1973.

A relatable role model for all Mountaineer student-athletes, Ford was an outstanding running back for WVU in the mid-1960s and was one of the first African-Americans to receive a scholarship to WVU. His 1965 record for most all-purpose yards in a WVU game (356 yards) still stands as the top Mountaineer mark. Additionally, Ford holds WVU’s eighth best non-touchdown run from scrimmage (67 yards), ninth-most career rushing attempts (453) and fourth-best freshman rushing season (148 carries for 733 yards). Ford also played professional football with the NFL’s Denver Broncos.

Ford has been inducted into several all-time classes, including the 1960-69 All-Time WVU Football Team and the DeMatha Catholic High School Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the WVU Hall of Fame in 1995 and into the School of Physical Education Hall of Fame in 2004.

A native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of DeMatha Catholic High School, Ford and his wife, Thelma, have two children – Tracie, a former WVU track standout, and Garrett Jr., also a past Mountaineer football player. Additionally, Ford and his wife have five grandchildren.

“I love West Virginia University,” Ford added. “My wife and kids have all earned degrees from here, and hopefully my grandchildren will as well. It’s nice when you can have a fulfilling career. My wife has been on me for a couple of years to retire, and the time is right. We have a lot of academic work to do from now until June, and we are on track to have another successful academic year.”