NORFOLK, Va. – The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) mourns the loss of former commissioner Kenneth Free, who passed away on Dec. 29, 2021. He was 85.
“Ken Free was a consequential figure not just in the MEAC, but in all of college athletics,” MEAC Commissioner Dennis E. Thomas said. “From securing Division I status for the conference’s member institutions to serving on the Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee, to tell the history of the MEAC without speaking of Ken Free would be a glaring omission. We mourn his passing and send our condolences and prayers to the Free family.”
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“We are saddened by the passing of former MEAC Commissioner Ken Free and send heartfelt condolences to his family,” MEAC Commissioner-elect Sonja Stills said. “He was a trailblazer in the field of collegiate athletics and laid the foundation for the MEAC that we will continue to build upon.”
Free was the first full-time commissioner of the MEAC, taking over in 1978. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the conference’s member institutions receiving Division I status from the NCAA in 1980. In 1987, Free became the first African-American to be named to the NCAA Div. I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee.
Free, a North Carolina A&T State University graduate, served as MEAC commissioner until June 1996. He was inducted into the MEAC Hall of Fame in 1999.