Seth Polansky
Sports Information Coordinator

Peoria's Johnson to Receive NIAAA Award of Excellence

November 17, 2017 by Seth Polansky, AZPreps365

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 17, 2017) — Three leaders in high school athletic administration have been selected by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) to receive the organization’s top awards for 2017.

Rick Johnson, CAA, retired athletic administrator of the Peoria (Arizona) Unified School District, has been selected to receive the NIAAA Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence; Darryl Nance, CMAA, director of athletics for the Greenville (South Carolina) County Schools, is the recipient of the NIAAA Frank Kovaleski Professional Development Award; and Lee Green, J.D., one of the nation’s top sports law experts from Overland Park, Kansas, is this year’s recipient of the NIAAA Award of Merit.

These individuals will receive their awards December 12 in Phoenix, Arizona, during banquet festivities at the 48th annual National Athletic Directors Conference conducted jointly by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the NIAAA.

NIAAA Award of Excellence

Rick Johnson, CAA, Arizona

The Thomas E. Frederick Award of Excellence is a prestigious award presented each year to an NIAAA member whose loyalty to the association and contributions to the profession represent excellence in achievement.

The award is named after the late Thomas E. Frederick, who served as NFHS assistant and associate director for 22 years before his retirement in 1989. Frederick was responsible for starting the National Athletic Directors Conference in 1971 as well as the NIAAA in 1977.

Rick Johnson, CAA, is now retired after 45 years as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator in the Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) in Arizona. Johnson was athletic director at Peoria High School for 15 years, followed by a long stint as district athletic director of the Peoria Unified School District.

During his time as an athletic administrator in the Peoria district, Johnson contributed to many local projects, including establishing privately funded peer-tutoring programs for student-athletes, initiating an athletic hall of fame and creating the first training program for coaches in the PUSD.

Johnson also served as a board member of the Peoria High School Booster Club and the Peoria Park Planning Board for many years. 

Beyond his service in the Peoria school district, Johnson has been one of the most significant contributors to the Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (AIAAA). He served on the AIAAA Executive Board for more than 15 years and was president in 1994-95. He also was a member of the AIAAA State Conference Planning Committee for 20 years and was editor of the AIAAA newsletter for 14 years. Johnson also served as the AIAAA’s Hall of Fame chairperson for eight years and was director of the AIAAA Awards Luncheon for eight years.

Johnson’s service to the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) was equally impressive. He was a member of the AIA Legislative Council for 18 years and served on the AIA Equity in Sports Committee and the AIA Cheerleading Committee. He was president and regional chairman for both the 4A and 5A Conferences for many years, and he directed many AIA state tournaments during his days as athletic director in the PUSD.

A member of the NIAAA for more than 25 years, Johnson served on the NIAAA Publications Committee for eight years and was a member of the NIAAA Credentials Committee for four years. Johnson served on the NIAAA Leadership Training Institute National Faculty and was the state’s representative to the NIAAA Delegate Assembly five times.

Among his previous awards, Johnson received the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award in 1999 and the NFHS Citation in 2003. He was named Arizona Athletic Director of the Year in 1996 and he received the NIAAA State Award of Merit in 1993.

NIAAA Professional Development Award

Darryl Nance, CMAA, South Carolina

The Frank Kovaleski Professional Development Award is presented each year to an NIAAA member who possesses and has contributed to the vision of professional development – the legacy of Frank Kovaleski – and who has made significant contributions and demonstrated excellence in professional development at the local, state and national levels. Kovaleski was director of the NIAAA, as well as assistant director of the NFHS, from 1989 until his retirement in 2005. He was responsible for starting the NIAAA Leadership Training Program in 1996 and expanding the NIAAA Certification Program in 1999.

Nance has become one of the key leaders in athletic administration in South Carolina the past 25 years. After four years at Shannon Forest Christian School and 19 years at Wade Hampton High School – both in Greenville – Nance has been director of athletics for the Greenville County Schools the past two years.

During his time as basketball coach at Shannon Forest and Wade Hampton, Nance compiled a 415-202 record, and he led the 2011 Wade Hampton team to an undefeated season and the state championship. In addition to basketball, Nance coached football, baseball, softball, volleyball and golf. He received his Certified Interscholastic Coach certification from the NFHS in 2015.

Nance earned his Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA) certification from the NIAAA in 1999, and his service to the NIAAA and the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association (SCAAA) has been at a frenetic pace ever since. He has been an SCAAA Board member since 1999 and was president in 2006. He was the state Leadership Training Institute coordinator for six years, and he has been the state’s certification coordinator and CAA Exam coordinator since 2011. 

Nance, who earned his CMAA certification in 2007, has taught NIAAA Leadership Training Institute (LTI) courses at the SCAAA state conference every year since 2001, and he has presented a certification workshop at the South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) Summer Meeting the past five years. In 2013, he organized the NIAAA Professional Development Outreach for Greenville County – the first of its kind in the state. Among his contributions to the SCHSL, Nance was a member of the Executive Committee for four years.

Nationally, Nance served on the NIAAA Board of Directors and was president in 2010. He has completed 32 LTI courses and is certified as an instructor in 27 courses, and he is a member of the National Faculty for Leadership Training Course 719. After his time on the Board, Nance was chairman of the Leadership Succession Plan in 2011 and the Professional Development Task Force in 2013-14. He also served five years on the NIAAA Endowment Committee.

Nance has attended the National Athletic Directors Conference since 2000 and has been a workshop speaker on multiple occasions. He also has written several articles for Interscholastic Athletic Administration magazine.

Nance has been recognized previously with the State Athletic Director of the Year award in 2010. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Furman University in 1985 and his master’s from the United States Sports Academy in 1991. 

NIAAA Award of Merit

Lee Green, J.D., Kansas

The Award of Merit is the most prestigious award presented by the NIAAA to an individual who has shown outstanding leadership in interscholastic athletics or related areas.

Lee Green, J.D., an attorney and professor emeritus at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, is one of the leading sports law experts in the United States. He recently retired as a professor at Baker University, where for 30 years he taught courses in sports law, constitutional law and business law.

In addition to his 30-year tenure at Baker, Green worked for the global accounting firm of Peat, Marwick & Mitchell (now KPMG) and the 700-attorney national law firm of Blackwell, Sanders, Matheny, Weary & Lombardi (now Husch Blackwell). He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and a juris doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Green began his association with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) in the late 1980s. He assisted with the development of four NIAAA Leadership Training Institute classes, and he regularly presents sports law seminars and workshops at the local, state and national levels, including the annual Sports Law Year in Review at the National Athletic Directors Conference.

As a charter member of the Publications Committee since 2007, Green has served as the legal columnist with the NFHS’ national magazine, High School Today. In addition to a feature on a legal topic of current interest, he writes a Legal Brief for each issue and altogether has authored more than 120 articles in the 10 years of the publication’s existence.

Green is the author of three books on sports law – Covering All The Bases: The Athletic Administrator & Coach’s Guide to Sports Law & Risk Management; A Level Playing Field: The Athletic Administrator & Coach’s Guide to Title IX & Gender Equity in Sports; and Sexual Harassment In Schools & Athletic Programs: A Guide to Policy Development & Prevention. He is also the author of the sports law chapter in the textbook, The NIAAA Guide to Interscholastic Athletic Administration.

In addition to seminars and workshops for the NFHS and NIAAA, Green has been a presenter on behalf of other state high school associations, as well as the NAIA and NCAA, and he serves as a sports law consultant to universities and schools districts across the country. 

Green retired from full-time teaching in May of last year to devote more time to sports law consulting and writing. During his 30 years at Baker, he was selected five times by the student body as the “Outstanding Professor” on campus. He also received the Distinguished Faculty Award and the Koepke Award for Distinguished Teaching. He also served 10 years as the university’s compliance officer for athletics.


About the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)

The NIAAA is the professional organization for interscholastic athletic administrators. The association is accredited by AdvancED and North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the NIAAA promotes and enhances the profession of athletic administration for high school and middle school athletic administrators. Since 1977, the NIAAA has served those who lead education-based athletic programs in the nation’s schools. With current individual membership of nearly 11,000, the NIAAA consists of members from athletic administrator associations in the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, as well as over 40 international countries. Through its 48-course curriculum, and four levels of certification, the NIAAA is the national leader in providing professional development for athletic administrators, directors, coordinators, and supervisors, as well as those serving in assistant principal/athletic director, or activity/athletic director combined roles that lead school-based sports programs. While providing best-practices and serving as a resource for safe and plentiful participation opportunities for student-athletes, the NIAAA places further focus on member benefits, standards, communication, outreach, and recognition, while emphasizing the exchange of ideas among athletic administrators throughout the nation and the world. NIAAA champions the profession of athletic administration through education opportunities, advocating ethics, developing leaders and fostering community. The NIAAA, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a full and equal partner with the NFHS. For more information, visit the NIAAA website at

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.8 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at

Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
Director of Publications and Communications
ational Federation of State High School Associations

Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations

Mike Blackburn, 317-587-1450
Executive Director
National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association