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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

A True Trailblazer, Old Dominion's Debbie White to Retire in June

Debbie Harmison White, senior associate athletic director for external relations at Old Dominion University, will retire in June after 36 years in the ODU athletic department, as announced today by Director of Athletics Wood Selig.

"Debbie is a pioneer in her profession," said Old Dominion President John R. Broderick. "During my interactions with colleagues regarding NCAA business, people will often mention Debbie as someone who always represented intercollegiate athletics and Old Dominion at the highest level. She has brought great recognition to Old Dominion through her integrity and honesty and has opened many doors for women as a result of the respect she has garnered. As a friend and colleague, I will miss working with her."

White joined the staff at ODU in 1979 as the assistant sports information director, and was promoted to sports information director the following year, playing a key role in the national exposure that both the men's and women's basketball programs enjoyed in the early 1980's. During her tenure as SID, Debbie served on the 1981 and 1982 United States Olympic Sports Festival media staffs, and represented the United States as one of four sports information directors on the media coordination team at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

After a one-year journalism teaching stint at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1984-85, Debbie returned to Old Dominion as an assistant athletic director, and was promoted to associate director in 1995 and senior associate in 2003. She was a member of the NCAA Communications Committee, NCAA Basketball Marketing Committee, and the Creative Content Committee for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. She also served as a member of the media liaison team and as press moderator at the NCAA Women's Final Four from 1986-2006. White was a member of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame honors court for 16 years, is a past president of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tidewater region, and a current member of the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame committee. In 2000, the Old Dominion University Women's Caucus honored White with the organization's Recognition Award for her support of women and women's issues on campus.

The College Sports Information Directors of America recognized her in 2006 with the Trailblazer Award for her pioneering efforts in the profession.

"Debbie White has given virtually her entire professional career to Old Dominion University which is dedication and commitment rarely exhibited anymore," said Selig. "ODU has benefitted greatly from Debbie's devotion to her field and our student-athletes, coaches, donors and fans. Throughout her 36-year career at ODU, Debbie has become a nationally recognized leader in media relations and contributed greatly to the national recognition ODU has enjoyed for decades especially relative to the tremendous success and branding of our strong women's athletics programs. The consummate professional, Debbie has served as a role model and mentor for generations of young sports administrators while they have advanced throughout their careers. Debbie will be greatly missed by Monarchs everywhere and her contributions will leave a legacy that will forever serve ODU."

White was the first full-time female sportswriter in the state of Virginia, serving on the staff of The Daily Press in Newport News from 1974-77, covering high school and college football and basketball, women's sports and sailing. She served as the sports information director at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, from 1977-79, where she was one of three women SID's in the nation at that time at an NCAA Division I institution.

She holds a B.S. degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a Master of Arts in education from the College of William and Mary. She and her husband Steve are the parents of three children: Kathleen Byrne (28) and Phil (24) and Stephanie White (22).

"I have been very fortunate to be part of the development and success of the ODU athletic program and grateful to President John Broderick and athletic directors Dr. Jim Jarrett and Dr. Wood Selig for their support throughout my tenure," said White. "I have had a front row seat for national and conference championships, All American performances by our student athletes, hosting post season tournaments, and watching our student athletes graduate and turn into outstanding citizens. The relationships I have made with my peers at other institutions, within our university and with the students are ultimately what I will miss the most and cherish going forward. It's been a great ride."

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