December 1, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

Lake Clifton graduate Dena Freeman-Patton happy to ‘come home’ to Baltimore as Morgan State’s first feminine athletic director – Baltimore Sun

Dena Freeman-Patton’s profession path has occur complete circle.

About three many years immediately after she very first stepped onto Morgan State’s campus as a junior at Lake Clifton High College to show up at a Lakers-Dunbar basketball video game and afterwards participated as a senior in a homecoming parade, Freeman-Patton will return to Baltimore as the to start with woman athletic director in the Bears’ 155-yr historical past.

Freeman-Patton, the athletic director and associate vice president at California Condition University, Dominguez Hills, succeeds Edward Scott, who remaining Jan. 31 to join Virginia as a deputy athletic director. She will start out in her new purpose June 1.

“I’m energized for this chance to do the job at this sort of a wonderful institution,” she said Tuesday night time. “This was basically my initially university expertise as a child. Morgan Point out was the first college or university campus I stepped on and acquired that college or university practical experience and comprehended what faculty daily life was like, which finally encouraged me to go to university. It is also an opportunity to build on the application that my predecessor, Ed Scott, laid the foundation for and to go the software ahead. I’m seriously psyched to be at a Division I establishment that is Baltimore. So for me, which is getting ready to come household following 25 decades in the business enterprise and to do what I enjoy for my group.”

Freeman-Patton, who will also serve as a vice president at the traditionally Black university and university, was introduced Tuesday afternoon by college president David K. Wilson, who pointed out that Freeman-Patton was a single of 8 candidates and then a single of three finalists.

“She is a Baltimore indigenous and has an comprehension and coronary heart for how the region can improved guidance athletics,” he mentioned Wednesday afternoon. “She is hugely regarded nationally as a leader. I was impressed with the wide variety and high quality of tips around the region from many field leaders. … She is just a terrific match for us. This is her household, and she is heading to be a pressure to be reckoned with with regard to the potential of school athletics as we go by way of this interval of NCAA transformation.”

Morgan Point out holds fond reminiscences for Freeman-Patton, who recalled how a lot she liked browsing the campus.

“I just loved how the university was celebrating men and women, celebrating the community,” she reported, including that her mom, Doris Freeman, graduated from the college in 1969. “It was a enjoyment ambiance. They introduced us in like we were being loved ones mainly because of course I was not a pupil there at the time. To me, it was pleasurable. It was the college in my community and the school that my mom attended.”

After participating in volleyball, basketball and softball at Lake Clifton, Freeman-Patton enrolled at Liberty, wherever she played for the women’s basketball workforce and attained a bachelor’s in sports management in 1996. She then graduated from Ga Condition in 1999 with a master’s in athletics administration.

Freeman-Patton’s job in school athletics concerned serving as academic adviser at Georgia Point out from 1997 to 2002, academic coordinator for the football method at North Carolina State from 2002 to 2005, and affiliate director of educational aid and occupation improvement at Maryland from 2005 to 2007. She returned to Georgia Condition to become associate athletic director for university student growth from 2007 to 2013.

Freeman-Patton then loaded deputy athletic director roles at California Point out College, Bakersfield from 2013 to 2019 and New Orleans from 2019 to 2021 in advance of foremost the athletics office at CSUDH in March 2021. She was named the Females Chief in Higher education Athletics Administrator of the Year in 2018.

Freeman-Patton said she experienced made a consolation stage at CSUDH right up until she uncovered that Scott was leaving Morgan Point out, sending him a text in jest that he was supposed to stay there for a longer time.

Scott endorsed the university’s decision to hire Freeman-Patton for the vacancy. “I believe really of Dena,” he wrote by means of textual content. “I’m content for her and happy for Morgan Point out.”

When she was contacted by the school’s lookup committee, Freeman-Patton acknowledged sensation conflicted.

“It was originally a difficult conclusion for the reason that I was vested here at Dominguez Hills,” she mentioned, noting that she has recognised Scott for at the very least 5 yrs as they served together on the NCAA Minority Alternatives and Interests Committee. “If I hadn’t just gotten below a year ago, it would have been a no-brainer for me. It finally ended up getting a no-brainer – as tough as it is leaving pupil-athletes that we started out one thing right here with. I get to come again immediately after 25 years, and to be capable to impact my community and do what I adore to do, to me, that’s a no-brainer.”

Freeman-Patton said Morgan State’s unofficial offer very last thirty day period arrived on the two-yr anniversary of the death of her father, Calvin Freeman.

“I observed it as a indicator,” she reported. “I saw it as God’s do the job and my dad’s operate. Basically, this was the place I essential to be.”

Wilson, the college president, stated Freeman-Patton is a function design for each genders, indicating, “Morgan is an establishment that values leadership, and we are just pleased that a chief of Dena’s capacity — who has the selection to go any place in the region — has seen Morgan Condition University as the location wherever she can elevate herself and the institution to the highest level of excellence and in the system, shatter some glass and display younger women of all ages that if you seriously want to guide in any space, that opportunity can arrive correct.”

At Morgan Condition, Freeman-Patton inherits a division of 14 packages and just about 300 athletes. During Scott’s 5-year tenure, the Bears navigated an NCAA penalty interval over a absence of institutional regulate that involved improperly certifying the eligibility of 94 athletes in 10 athletics and improperly offering economical support to athletes in nine sporting activities. The probationary phase of the penalty time period, which bundled a person-12 months postseason bans for football, tennis and softball, lowered scholarships in the 10 athletics, and recruiting constraints, finished Dec. 18.

Below Scott, the athletic department increased its collective GPA to a new substantial of 3.41, elevated the graduation price by 19%, and gained a $2.7 million donation — the major in college heritage and the largest non-public donation to a historically Black school and University’s athletic section — to relaunch its wrestling method.

“My program is to make sure that we continue on strides that Morgan has built academically in reaching their graduation costs and success charges and creating sure that we’re conference all the APR scores, but also to increase on some of our sporting activities athletically and competitively,” Freeman-Patton claimed. “In the close for me, it is about what takes place to these college student-athletes when they graduate. Did that scholar-athlete love his or her experience? Did he or she enjoy what we offered and the aid we gave him or her to reach that intention? Are they likely to give back? Are they likely to occur again? Are they going to be engaged? That is how you measure whether you’re undertaking a excellent position with these young persons.”

Wilson mentioned Freeman-Patton really should confront several challenges in succeeding Scott.

“I assume that underneath Dena’s leadership that added floors will be developed on the basis she is inheriting from Dr. Scott,” he claimed. “An establishment are unable to stand nevertheless. It has to continue on to create. Our intent is to not go again. There is a pretty powerful foundation in athletics here at Morgan — academically, competitively. We have not been as productive in soccer, but we feel that working day is heading to occur. So this is an chance for Dena to occur in and develop her legacy.”

In addition to restarting the wrestling team, Freeman-Patton will have to work with the relaxation of the Mid-Japanese Athletic Conference to keep its existing team of members. On Tuesday, commissioner Sonja Stills rebutted studies that Howard was arranging to move to the Colonial Athletic Affiliation, which previously productively recruited an additional HBCU in Hampton.

Freeman-Patton claimed she did not perceive a big difference concerning operating at an HBCU in contrast with other Division I establishments.

“I don’t assume it’s a diverse kind of method,” she said. “I think it serves a distinct kind of populace. I believe Morgan Condition has the same possibilities as predominantly white establishments.”

Freeman-Patton explained in former excursions to Baltimore, she observed new building on Morgan State’s campus and pointed out the growth to her mom. Even though she has not been on campus in many years, she predicted a clean and fast transition.

“It won’t acquire me very long,” she claimed. “I’ll leap in swiftly. I have a excellent assist process. I have the aid of a large amount of people today in the town. I think I’ll jump appropriate in and be equipped to get acclimated quite swiftly.”