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Former Michigan State University Athletic Director Merritt Norvell Dies at 79

Former Michigan State University athletic director Dr. Merritt Norvell – one of the first Black Division I athletic directors – died Monday in Lansing at age 79, the Detroit News reported.

Dr. Merritt Norvell (Photo by Michigan State Athletics)Dr. Merritt Norvell (Photo by Michigan State Athletics)

Most recently, Norvell served as executive director of the National Association of Coaching Equity and Development.

During Norvell’s time as MSU’s athletic director from 1995 to 1999, he fundraised millions for various athletics-related building projects and supervised three Hall of Fame coaches: Nick Saban for football, Tom Izzo for basketball and Ron Mason for hockey.

“The thoughts of the entire Michigan State athletics family are with the family and friends of Merritt Norvell,” Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said in a statement. “Beyond his contributions at Michigan State, his impact was felt across college athletics, including at the national level. Over the last couple days, I’ve been particularly impressed with the number of athletic directors I’ve heard from who were impacted by his mentorship. It’s quite a tribute to him professionally and personally.”

Norvell played football for the University of Wisconsin–Madison Badgers, playing as part of the 1962 Big Ten Championship and in the 1963 Rose Bowl.

“Throughout his career, Merritt was a strong advocate for minority coaches and championed leadership and professional development,” said Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, in a statement. “We appreciate the time and care he spent helping the NCAA develop leaders for our industry through his work with our coaching and minority development programs.”

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