The passing of United States Sports Academy Founding President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich
The United States Sports Academy is mourning the loss of its beloved
Founding President, Trustee, and longtime global sport education leader Dr. Thomas P.
Rosandich, who passed away from natural causes on Saturday, 29 August 2020 at age 88.
A native of Sheboygan Falls, Wisc., Rosandich served as the Academy’s president and chief
executive officer for 43 years until 2015, when his son, Dr. T.J. Rosandich, was named president
and CEO. Rosandich’s enduring legacy is that the Academy continues to thrive and serve the
profession as an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to
serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service.
Rosandich was a member of Christ the King Catholic Church in Daphne, Ala. A mass in
celebration of his life will be held at Christ the King Catholic Church at 4 p.m. on Thursday, 3
September, 2020 followed by a reception on the campus of the United States Sports Academy.
Interment at Fairhope Memorial Gardens will follow at a later date.
Rosandich founded the Academy in 1972 in response to a poor performance by the United States
Olympic team in the 1972 Munich Games. Research suggested that American athletes were
lacking quality coaching and training, which Rosandich believed could best be remedied through
Rosandich relocated the Academy to Alabama in 1976 as the only free-standing and accredited
sports university in the United States. Over the past 45 years, the Academy has conferred
thousands of sport-specific degrees to its students and has enriched the lives of countless more
through its education and outreach programs that have been delivered in some 67 countries
around the world. The Academy now offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs
as well as a wide array of non-degree sport education programs.
The Academy campus, located in Daphne, Ala., which has won architectural awards for its
beauty, also houses the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA). Founded in 1984
by Rosandich, ASAMA embodies the enduring connection between sports and art. Through
tireless effort, Rosandich built the collection into a world-recognized museum housing more than
1,700 pieces in all mediums. It is thought to be the largest museum of the sport genre in the
world and is open free-of-charge as a public service to the community.
Rosandich brought to the Academy a storied career in sport. He starred in football and track and
field at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he graduated with a degree in physical
education and history in 1954. His alma mater has recognized his contributions by his induction
into the UW-La Crosse Athletic Wall of Fame in 1983, naming him the Maurice O. Graff
Distinguished Alumnus in 1989, and honoring him annually by presenting the Rosandich Thesis
Award, which recognizes the student with the best master’s degree thesis of the year. Rosandich
went on to earn a master’s degree in sport administration from the National School of Sport at
the University of Indonesia and a Ph.D. in research at Union Graduate School in Ohio.
Following graduation from UW-La Crosse, Rosandich began a 20-year career of service in the
United States Marine Corps Reserve, where he coached numerous world record and Olympic
track and field athletes. He was the founder and director of the inaugural Marine Corps Schools
Relays in Quantico, Va., and was named the All-Marine Track and Field Coach, All-Marine
Cross Country Coach and All-Service Coach in 1956 in which capacity he coached the military
track and field athletes in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Between 1956 and 1976, Rosandich coached in some 50 countries preparing national teams for
international games as part of the U.S. State Department’s “U.S. Ambassadors of Sport”
program. In this role, Rosandich was charged with using sport to elevate America’s relationship
with nations around the world.
Before founding the Academy, he also served as director of athletics at the University of
Wisconsin system at Parkside and Milwaukee. His substantial contributions to track and field
earned him induction in the Helms Track and Field Hall of Fame. He has also been active in
professional organizations such as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
Though fully engaged in building the Academy into America’s premier school of sports,
Rosandich still found the time to contribute to the profession in many ways, including serving as
a supporter, leader and advocate for the global advancement of sport, earning numerous national
and international honors. For his work in the Olympic Movement, Rosandich was awarded the
highest International Olympic Committee honor, The Olympic Order, in 1997.
Rosandich’s impact in Southwest Alabama has transcended sport and education and has included
initiatives such as the creation of “Operation Bounce-back”, the first cardiac rehabilitation
program in Mobile. Through the Academy’s outreach programs, the institution is the only
enterprise in the area that has brought six foreign heads of State to the Port City.
Rosandich also created the Academy’s Awards of Sport program, which each year serves as “A
Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.” The Academy presents the awards to pay tribute to those
who have made significant contributions to sport, in categories as diverse as the artist and the
athlete in several different arenas of sport.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission
sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and
service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit
United States Sports Academy Founding President Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich.
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