Dec. 11, 2017

NJCAA Mourns Passing of George Killian


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — George E. Killian, the first executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), died Dec. 6 at 93. Killian is regarded as one of the most influential leaders in NJCAA’s history.

Under his leadership, the NJCAA became the first national collegiate athletic organization to add women’s athletics in 1975. The NAIA and NCAA would follow in adding women’s athletics in 1980 and ’81.

Killian began his career in the NJCAA as athletic director and head men’s basketball coach at Erie Community College in New York in 1954. He was elected president of the NJCAA as the second-largest national collegiate athletic organization in the United States. He fostered the organization’s role in providing athletic and academic opportunities to student-athletes and propelled the NJCAA’s men’s basketball championship tournament to national prominence in Hutchinson, Kan.

“With the passing of George E. Killian, the NJCAA has lost a historian, an advocate, a leader, a mentor and a friend,” said former NJCAA executive director Mary Leicht. Leicht worked under Killian for 15 years. “During his lifetime George served the NJCAA with a tireless passion, building the organization from the college student-athlete nationally and internationally. Personally and professionally, George was a friend until the very end, and I will miss him. My sincere condolences to his wife Marilyn and his extended family and loved ones.”

From 1990-98, Killian served as president of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the global governing body of USA Basketball for 26 years. He was also a prominent member of the board of directors for USA basketball for 26 years. He served on the United States Olympic Committee’s board of directors from 1967-2004 and from 1996-98 International Olympic Committee. In 1999, he was elected president of the International University Sport Federation (FISU) and served two terms before resigning in 2011.

Following his retirement from NJCAA in 2004, Killian received the Award of Excellence in 2006 to honor his dedication and service to two-year college athletics. The award is given annually to members of the NJCAA board of directors who display the ideals of volunteerism, achievement, service, leadership and excellence.

“The entire NJCAA family is saddened to hear of the loss of George Killian,” said current NJCAA CEO Dr. Chris Parker. “Mr. Killian was a true pioneer and paved the way for hundreds of thousands of two-year college student athletes. We are forever grateful for his leadership and ambition and his legacy will live on throughout our great association.”

The NJCAA will announce memorial plans and further plans to honor Killian’s legacy.

For more information, visit