Grambling State University President Dr. Horace A. Judson has announced the appointment of J. Lin Dawson as the new Director of Athletics at Grambling State University, effective immediately.Dawson brings a wealth of experience to Grambling State as the Kinston, N.C. native has held significant roles in higher education and business settings where he has been a professional athlete, entrepreneur, graduate school professor, counselor, minister, consultant, director, athletic administrator, program designer and senior officer over the course of his 27-year professional career.
Dawson attended North Carolina State University and played football for the Wolfpack from 1977 to 1981. He was drafted by the NFLâ€™s New England Patriots in 1981 and played an integral part in the teamâ€™s success as he helped lead the Patriots to the 1985 AFC Championship Title and an appearance in Super Bowl XX while playing tight end. In addition to his role on the field during his 10-year tenure with New England, Dawson also had a strong locker room presence as he played a key role in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the NFLâ€™s Management Council while serving as the teamâ€™s player representative for four years. In addition, Dawson also served as team chaplain for six years.
Once his playing days came to an end, Dawson moved over to the administrative side of athletics and served as the Associate Director of Training and Education at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society (CSSS) at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. from 1991 to 1994. As a member of the CSSS staff, Dawson worked with an award-winning program called Project TEAMWORK that used former professional athletes to address issues of race, ethnicity and gender. Under his leadership, the CSSS won national awards from the Anti-Defamation League, the Peter F. Drucker Foundation and was named the countryâ€™s best conflict resolution program by the White House in June of 1994.
Dawson continued to move up the athletic ladder as he accepted the position of Associate Athletic Director at his alma mater of North Carolina State in 1994. While at NC State, Dawson managed ImPack, the departmentâ€™s student-athlete development program along with serving as sport administrator for football for five years. Once again, Dawson showed his knack for leadership as the ImPack Program was awarded the inaugural â€˜Program of Distinctionâ€™ by the NCAA Division I Athletic Directors Association in 1997.
After a five-year stint at North Carolina State, Dawson spent one year as the Chief Operating Officer with the National Consortium for Academics and Sports at Disneyâ€™s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. (NCAS). As the Chief Operating Officer, Dawson helped spread the organizationâ€™s mission to over 200 member institutions of creating a better society by focusing on educational attainment and using the power and appeal of sport to positively affect social change.
In June of 2000, Dawson returned to the state of North Carolina and assumed the position of Director of Athletics at North Carolina Central University. He rolled up his sleeves and immediately went to work as he wiped out the departmentâ€™s seven-year debt in a span of two years with a $1.2 million dollar impact that was generated through fundraising ventures and cost saving measures. Along with his fundraising skills, Dawson improved the departmentâ€™s playing and training facilities (Olympic Sports weight room) along with re-establishing NCCUâ€™s Letter Winner Award Program and All-Sports Recognition Reception.
Following his tenure at North Carolina Central, Dawson spent three years (2003-2006) at Virginia Commonwealth University as an Adjunct Professor in the schoolâ€™s Graduate Sports Management Program and Associate Athletic Director/Associate Director of the VCU Sports Center. As a member of the Sports Center staff, Dawson served as the administrator for the baseball, soccer and track programs which included fiscal management, fundraising and staff development.
In January of 2007, Dawson entered the private sector and served as the Chief Spiritual Officer for The Lin Dawson Organization, LLC (LDO). As CSO of the organization, Dawson provides organizational development consulting thatâ€™s balanced by a broad academic background, practical management and executive level applications. He has worked with several Fortune 500 corporations in the areas of organizational design and development, executive coaching, teambuilding, and leadership diversity. As one of the first practitioners in the country to design and implement leadership diversity programs for collegiate athletic programs and professional sports, Dawson has also helped over 40 major universities and professional sports organizations such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Soccer (MLS) to launch successful diversity initiatives.
In addition to his work with the LDO, Dawson has been involved with the ministry for 28 years and also serves as the Executive Director of the Motherland Foundation. As the director, Dawson ministers to the needs of African clergy in Zimbabwe, Kenya and the Sudan while also providing resources for training and economic development. As a result of his work with the foundation, Dawson has had the opportunity train to Kenyan tribal leaders in conflict resolution, reconciliation and leadership development along with preaching or presenting in over 300 churches in the United States and Africa throughout the course of his career.
Dawson holds a bachelorâ€™s in Speech and Communication from Northeastern University and an MBA with a specialization in Human Resource Management and Knowledge/Learning Management from Walden University. Currently, heâ€™s a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Management and Decision Sciences-Organizational Change and Leadership and a M.Div. candidate.
Dawson and his wife, Margo (married for 23 years), have three children: Jamar, Jelyse and Jordan. Both Jamar, a senior aerospace engineering major and Jelyse, a junior business management major, attend North Carolina State while Jordan is currently in middle school.
What others are saying about J. Lin Dawson:
“Lin Dawson is one of the greatest people I’ve ever coached. He was a very hard worker and a guy you could really rely on to do whatever you asked of him. Lin made everyone around him better, not just as players, but he made them better as people, too. He is really an extraordinary man.”
-Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Assistant Head Coach, New England Patriots
â€œLin Dawson is an excellent choice to lead the athletic program at Grambling State University. I have known and worked with Lin for the past 15 years and believe that he brings an exciting vision for intercollegiate athletics to Grambling.â€
-Bernard W. Franklin, Executive Vice President for Governance and Membership Services, NCAA
â€œI admired what Grambling stood for in higher education since the 1960s. Then I fell in love with Grambling when I co-authored Eddie Robinsonâ€™s autobiography and spent so much time with Coach, Doris and the student-athletes at Grambling. Now Grambling has the perfect leader as Athletics Director in Lin Dawson. He is as intelligent, highly principled, and committed to the student-athlete as much as anyone I know in college sport. Lin Dawson going to Grambling State makes for a perfect relationship.â€
-Richard Lapchick, Chair of DeVos Sport Business Management Program,
Director, Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport
Director, National Consortium for Academics and Sports, Univ. of Central Florida
â€œWhile Associate Director of Athletics at NC State, Lin consistently demonstrated his respect for coaches, support for student-athletes, and assistance to the administration. His personal integrity, diligence in work ethic, and ability to mold individuals into teammates were qualities and skills that made him a truly valuable Athletics administrator. Grambling is extremely fortunate to have Lin in the Director of Athletics leadership role! His personal qualities will be the foundation on which a solid program will be built!â€
-Nora Lynn Finch, Associate Commissioner/Women’s Basketball
Senior Woman Administrator, Atlantic Coast Conference
â€œMr. Dawson had a passion for superior performance for student-athletes both on and off the playing fields. Additionally, he insisted that student-athletes and his staff exhibit important personal qualities, such as communication astuteness, appropriate dress, self respect and being respectful, etc. He led by example.â€
-Les Brinson, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Psychology, North Carolina Central, Faculty Athletic Representative