The NJCAA is pleased to recognize the achievements of individuals within its leadership structure, member colleges and contributors as well as former student-athletes. The following awards were created to provide proper recognition to those that have served the association honorably, helped advance the mission of the association or have helped raise the profile of the NJCAA through their accomplishments.
George E. Killian Award of Excellence
The George E. Killian Award of Excellence has been awarded annually since 2006 to individuals that have demonstrated the ideals of voluntarism, achievement, service, leadership and excellence as exemplified by its namesake. Only active Region Directors, Assistant Region Directors, Coaches Association Presidents, Presidential Representatives and Officers are eligible for consideration with a minimum of two years of national service to the NJCAA. George E. Killian was one of the most influential leaders in the history of the Association. He served as the ninth NJCAA President from 1967-69 and was then hired by its board of directors as the first NJCAA Executive Director in 1969. Killian led the organization to many triumphs, including the establishment of the Association's women's division - which was revolutionary when it was enacted in 1975. During his tenure the NJCAA flourished from a basketball-centered organization to the second-largest intercollegiate athletic association in the country. After 35 years of leadership and service, Killian retired from the NJCAA in 2004. View Recipients
Reed K. Swenson Leadership Award
Awarded just 10 times in the history of the NJCAA, the Reed K. Swenson Leadership Award is one of the most prestigious honors awarded by the Association. The award seeks to recognize those that have demonstrated superior leadership and achievement in contributing to the advancement of amateur athletics. The honor is named after former NJCAA President Reed K. Swenson (1949-62) who is credited with leading the Association out of turmoil, dissension and near collapse after World War II. The athletic director and men's basketball coach from Weber College (Utah) led the NJCAA through three of the most challenging obstacles in its history: 1) the departure of its California members (many founding institutions of the organization) in the early 1950s 2) pressure from the American Association of Junior Colleges, which did not support regional and national competition in two-year college athletics and 3) intrusion by the NCAA. Through it all, Swenson's calm demeanor and diligent leadership solidified the NJCAA as the sole leader in two-year college athletics. View Recipients
Mary Ellen Leicht Service Award
Founded in 1959, the NJCAA Service Award is the most tenured honor handed out by the Association. It is given to those - most often not an athlete - who have made significant contributions to two-year college athletics on a national level for an extended period of time. Annually, one Service Award can be reserved for a member of the media. No more than four Service Awards can be presented in a given year. In 2017, the NJCAA renamed the honor to the Mary Ellen Leicht Service Award in recognition of the 28 years of dedicated service by its third Executive Director. Leicht began her journey with the NJCAA in 1989 as an eligibility administrator and was quickly promoted to associate executive director. Her promotion in 2009 to Executive Director made history as she became the first female chief executive of not only the NJCAA but of any national collegiate athletic organization in the United States. After nearly three decades with the Association, Leicht retired from the NJCAA in 2017. View Recipients
NJCAA Annual Awards
Created in the spring of 2020, the NJCAA Annual Awards honor three distinct categories across the association - Athletic Director of the Year, Sports Information Director of the Year, and Athletic Trainer of the Year. These awards represent individuals who strive to create the optimal student-athlete experience on their campus while also performing duties that go far beyond the institutional level. View Recipients
The Appreciation Award is handed out strictly at the discretion of the current NJCAA Executive Director to recognize superior contributions to the Association. This award can be bestowed to an individual, group or member college. View Recipients
Awarded a mere 17 times in the Association's history, the Loyalty Award is given to an active athletic director in the NJCAA membership that has worked to uphold the ideals of the organization. Significant to this award is leadership in an athletic program exemplifying excellence both on the field/court and in the classroom. View Recipients
Reserved for recognizing superior athletic success, the Achievement Award is presented to a former NJCAA student-athlete that has displayed outstanding ability in national, professional, Olympic or international competition while also displaying excellent ethical character. Nominees must be five years removed from his/her last competition in the NJCAA. View Recipients
The Merit Award is given to a former NJCAA student-athlete that have distinguished themselves and are recognized nationally for their achievements in their profession.