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Big South Conference Mourns Loss Of First Commissioner
Dr. Edward M. “Dick” Singleton, the first commissioner of the Big South Conference from 1983-89, passed away Thursday afternoon, May 12. Dr. Singleton was also the first Chancellor of Big South charter member Coastal Carolina University from 1963-83.
In September 1983, Dr. Singleton was hired as the Big South Conference’s first commissioner. He immediately continued the efforts of League founders Howard Bagwell and George Christenberry by adding members in Armstrong State, Radford and UNC Asheville to previously committed Augusta, Charleston Southern, Campbell, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop - giving the Big South more than the required six members to constitute an official conference.
Dr. Singleton oversaw the Big South’s first year of competition in the Fall of 1984, and in September 1986, the Big South Conference was granted full-fledged NCAA Division I status. He led the Conference through the growth and expansion of the sports program, as he started the League with just five men’s sports but later instituted the addition of six women’s sports - basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, golf and volleyball - and eventually increased the League’s sports sponsorship to 12 during his tenure.
His time as commissioner also included the Big South’s first-ever basketball program - men’s or women’s - to appear in a postseason tournament when Radford’s women’s basketball team was invited to the National Women’s Invitational Tournament. His vision and leadership established a solid base for the Big South Conference during its formative years and laid the foundation for the League’s future.
Dr. Singleton was a member of the Big South’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2003, and as part of the League’s 25th Anniversary celebration in 2008-09, was honored as the first recipient of the Big South Conference Leadership Award which was named in his honor. The award was created as part of the Big South’s “Developing Leaders Through Athletics” initiative to recognize a former Big South student-athlete or administrator who has exhibited exemplary leadership and character during their career.
“Dr. Singleton had a major impact on the lives of student-athletes in the Big South Conference as the first commissioner of the League,” stated Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander. “He was a mentor to so many, and his lasting impact continues to this day. He was integral in the formation of the Big South Conference and we are all indebted to his work. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Singleton family.”
He is the father of three children: Francesca Singleton Seccafico and husband Peter of St. Augustine, Fla.; Stephen Singleton and wife Beth, and grandson Parker, of Lugoff, S.C.; and Kim and wife Sara Jo and granddaughters Morgan and Claire Singleton, of Conway, S.C. He leaves his wife, Patricia Baker Durant Singleton, four stepsons: Walter, Chip, Wesley, and Patrick; and four step-grandchildren. He leaves a sister Jeannie, wife of the late E. Cater Floyd; and sister-in-law Rosemary Singleton, wife of the late James Singleton; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his bothers Joseph and James, and sister Betty.
By Big South Sports Media Relations