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WVU physical education dean to speak at business dinner

April 07, 2006|by JANET HEIM

At the Economic Development Commission's annual "Celebration of Business" dinner, the goal is two-fold - to recognize existing businesses and to feature a keynote speaker with local ties who is a success story.

Those who attend this year's invitation-only event, one that draws about 300 people each year, will have the honor of hearing Dana Brooks, dean of the School of Physical Education at West Virginia University.

The dinner is Tuesday, April 11, at Fountain Head Country Club.

Brooks will be speaking on "Intercollegiate Athletes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Brooks will explore the historical development of college sports and how it has grown from being student-driven to a multimillion dollar entity.

On the "Not So Good" side, he'll talk about how the graduation rates of student athletes, especially minority athletes, are not what they should be, as well as how Title IX, which has allowed more women to participate in sports to the detriment of men's sports and the need for reform in college athletics.

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Brooks grew up on Jonathan Street in Hagerstown, where he was raised by an aunt and uncle. For his elementary school years, Brooks attended North Street School, which was a segregated school for black children at the time, he said.

Beginning in sixth grade, Brooks attended integrated schools - North Potomac School for a year and South Potomac Junior High for grades 7 and 8. He moved with the family to Sumans Avenue his freshman year and played basketball at South Hagerstown High School.

Brooks credits mentors at each step of his education for his success. South High basketball coach Paul Swartz inspired Brooks to become a physical education teacher.

After graduating from South High, Brooks attended Hagerstown Junior College from 1969 to 1971. He said he played basketball under Cokey Robertson.

Brooks was team captain his sophomore year and traveled with the team, going to Delaware and to Miami, his first trip to Florida, he said. His time at HJC became the foundation for his career, Brooks said.

He said he took some of his most difficult classes there, including human anatomy, physiology and biology and said Mabel Waters became an academic mentor for him. Brooks was inducted into the Hagerstown Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

With the encouragement of Carl Gallagher at HJC, Brooks was selected for the Ford Foundation Scholarship that allowed black students at HJC to transfer to a four-year university. Brooks chose Towson State College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in teaching and coaching.

After an unsuccessful attempt to find teaching/coaching positions in Washington County, Brooks decided to pursue a master's degree at WVU, where his high school coach, Swartz, had made the switch from coaching to academics.

Brooks was awarded a graduate teaching assistantship, conducted research and continued his studies until he earned his doctorate in education there, as well.

He joined the faculty, rose through the ranks and has been dean of the School of Physical Education at WVU since 1993. Brooks has received many awards and is working on two documentaries about the integration of sports.

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