Dempsey makes time for namesake run

By Ann McBride

Special to the Arizona Daily Wildcat

It wasn't Cedric Dempsey's finishing time in the two-mile Fun Run that was so impressive. What was impressive was his commitment to return to Tucson to support the race that bears his name.

Of the 2,000 people who competed in the Cedric Dempsey Cancer Run last Sunday, it would be difficult to find someone as busy as Dempsey, the University of Arizona's athletic director from 1982 to 1993 who now works as the executive director of the NCAA.

Since taking over the position in January, Dempsey has spent the majority of his time on the road, and even though he had hoped to cut back on the amount of travel his predecessor completed, he has been on the road for close to 200 days straight.

"There are so many constituent groups of the association today that expect you to be at their meetings," he said. "It's been an educational year of trying to determine where I can maybe next year cut back some time, but on the other hand ... it's going to be very difficult to cut back significantly."

Dempsey's familiarity with the NCAA enabled him to become familiar with his tasks quickly because he already knew several members of the staff and upper management in the association's Kansas City, Mo., office.

"It's been an easy adjustment that way for me," said Dempsey, who is only the third executive director of the NCAA ever.

His priorities are clear to inspire more involvement and input by student athletes about what is happening in intercollegiate athletics today and restructuring the association.

"Those two areas will certainly be short and long term goals as to where we're headed, and have consumed a great deal of my time as we've reorganized our own staff to address the student-athlete needs and welfare," Dempsey said.

However, Dempsey always sets aside time during the fall for the Cancer Center Run. Not counting Sunday, the race has raised more than $1.6 million for the Arizona Cancer Center in its 12-year history. Dempsey, who received treatment at the Arizona Cancer Cen

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ter in 1985 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphona, said that one of the most meaningful gifts he received when he left the UA was being asked to remain a part of the run.

The Cancer Center Run organizers are equally pleased Dempsey wished to stay involved with the fundraiser.

"The fact that he is at the top of his profession brings us more publicity and we feel his story is emblematic of what the Cancer Center stands for," said Gina Viviano, Cancer Center Run event coordinator.

Said Dempsey: "There's hardly an individual who has not had someone or immediate family (member) have cancer. I think there's an emotional interest and tie."

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