Many student-athletes want to stay active in sports after graduation, but few Franklin & Marshall grads have been linked to collegiate competition as fully as have Steve Ulrich ’82 and Jennifer Dubow ’04.
Both have developed rewarding careers as executive directors of NCAA Division III athletic conferences. Ulrich recently retired as executive director of the Centennial Conference (CC)— the league in which F&M teams compete—while Dubow is executive director of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
While Dubow looks forward to many years leading the SCIAC, Ulrich will be remembered as the driving force of the Centennial. He joined the CC in 1993 when it evolved from a football-only league to an all-sports conference. Based in Lancaster, the CC includes full-time members Bryn Mawr College, Dickinson College, F&M, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Johns Hopkins University, McDaniel College, Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College and Washington College.
“The Centennial Conference is regarded as one of the finest in the region and in Division III,” said Ulrich, a history major who played varsity golf for the Diplomats. “I take a great deal of pride in that.”
Within Division III, Ulrich created the first conference website, organized the first conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, started the first conference Twitter account, and launched the first conference-wide streaming video portal. “I’m proud that our conference has been a leader in digital technology,” he says. “This access is good for parents and friends of students and it helps us to recruit nationally.”
Ulrich has led this innovation while making sure the Centennial stays true to its core philosophy of “recognizing the fundamental purpose of the academic missions of the institutions.”
“The Centennial represents some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, and Steve has put the league front and center on the national stage,” said F&M Director of Athletics and Recreation Patricia Epps.
Son of a former F&M dean, Foster “Fuzz” Ulrich ’56, Steve is married to Marcy Dubroff, a longtime F&M employee and associate director of the POGIL Project. His two children, recent grad Ryan ’18 and current sophomore Caroline ’22, now have their own F&M stories to tell.
On the West Coast, Dubow is following Ulrich’s lead in running a prestigious conference with academically rigorous institutions. The SCIAC includes California Institute of Technology, California Lutheran University, Chapman University, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College, University of La Verne, Occidental College, Pomona-Pitzer College, University of Redlands and Whittier College. Its office is in Los Angeles.
Dubow held positions with the Colonial States Athletic Conference (in Rosement, Pa.) and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (in Wexford, Pa.) before landing the SCIAC post in 2016.
“One of the challenges in southern California is travel,” said Dubow, a native of Dana Point, Calif. “Unlike Pennsylvania, where there are many colleges in a relatively small area, we really have to travel for our games. But we have a robust league, with great competition.”
Dubow values her skills in writing and communications she honed at F&M. She also credits both Ulrich and Epps with aiding her career.
“Steve created the regional meetings [for conferences] in the Mid-Atlantic region,” Dubow says. “I attended those meetings, and the mentoring I received was invaluable. After moving west, I organized the first West Coast Commissioners meeting because I missed that regional connection so much. Other regions also copied what Steve started in the Mid-Atlantic.”
Dubow said that Epps, her tennis coach, advised her to look into athletic administration after leaving Lancaster.
“Jenny is very bright and was outstanding on the tennis court, in the classroom and in all areas of life at F&M,” Epps said. “Collegiate athletics benefits from her expertise, her insight, her wit and her genuine care for student-athletes, and how participation in sport can educate and transform.”