VaSID honors VT’s Dave Smith, UVa.’s Rich Murray
The Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) presented the organization’s Distinguished Service Award to two statewide legends in the field of athletic communications. Rich Murray of the University of Virginia and Dave Smith of Virginia Tech received the honor at VaSID’s annual meeting on June 6 at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.
The award is given to individuals who have promoted college athletics and the concept of the student-athlete. The honor is bestowed only to professionals who have been a part of the athletic community as a coach, administrator or member of the media for a minimum of 20 years.
“VaSID couldn’t be more pleased than to recognize two of the stars and true gentlemen of our profession in Rich Murray and Dave Smith,” commented VaSID President Kevin Warner of James Madison. “They have made an immeasurable impact upon their institutional coworkers, their state and conference colleagues and various media representatives. This award is a testament to their selfless service and dedication.”
Rich Murray retired last year following 40 years in the sports information profession, including 11 years at James Madison followed by 29 years as a member of the University of Virginia athletics department staff. For more than 22 years he oversaw the daily operation of the Virginia athletics media relations office before being named associate director of athletics for public relations in 2005.
Murray worked with the men’s basketball program during his entire time at Virginia, and also served as a public relations liaison for the department. He worked with the department’s senior staff on public relations initiatives and provided additional support in that area for Athletics Director Craig Littlepage. He previously served as the primary athletics media relations contact for football from 1983-1998 and hosted the Virginia basketball coach’s television show for four seasons from 1990-91 to 1993-94.
Murray came to Charlottesville in 1983. Before that, he served as the sports information director at James Madison University and the school’s public information director beginning in 1975. He also spent two years as host of the football and basketball coaches’ television shows at JMU.
Murray served as first president of VaSID from 1983 to 1984 and later served a vice president role. He received the 1996 Bus Male Service Award, recognizing untiring and devoted service to University of Virginia athletics. A native of Valatie, N.Y., Murray received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Washington & Lee University in 1971. Following graduation, he served as news director for WAYB-Radio in Waynesboro, Va., where he handled the news operation and did basketball and baseball play-by-play.
Dave Smith is beginning his 39th year with the Virginia Tech Athletics Department and his 21st full-time season with the Hokie football team. He has been involved with the football team each of his 38 years at Tech, and works with head coach Frank Beamer and the rest of the Virginia Tech coaching staff, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of the athletic communications office. Smith is a 1970 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in English.
One of the longest-tenured employees in the athletics department, Smith came to Virginia Tech in 1975. Early on, he worked with the Tech men’s basketball program, and he also was the main contact for Tech’s baseball program, a role that he assumed for more than 30 years.
He became the primary contact for the football program in 1998, and was promoted to sports information director. He later was promoted to the role of assistant AD for athletics communications.
A native of Roanoke, Smith also serves as the liaison to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame committee. In addition to his other duties, he is the department’s de facto historian. Many authors have written articles and books about various players, coaches and aspects of Tech athletics and Smith’s expertise has been invaluable in helping those authors with their work.
Smith began his career in the newspaper business, covering the sports scene in Franklin County, Va., for the Franklin News-Post. He covered all sorts of sporting events, including local stock car races at legendary Franklin County Speedway. He later accepted a position as the sports information director at Ferrum College, becoming the school’s first SID. From there, he returned to Blacksburg to begin his illustrious career in athletic communications.
The first Distinguished Service Award went to co-recipients Bob McLelland of the Roanoke Times and Marshall Johnson of the Associated Press in 1987. The most recent recipient was Dr. Jim Jarrett, former Director of Athletics at Old Dominion University, who was inducted in 2004.
Previous Distinguished Service Award winners:
Bob McLelland, Roanoke Times
Marshall Johnson, Associated Press
Bill Snellenberger, Lynchburg College
Bob Moorman, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Paul Webb, Old Dominion University
Bill Deekens, Richmond News Leader
Bill Brill, Roanoke Times
Charles Christian, Norfolk State University
Dallas Shirley, Southern Conference
Weenie Miller, Hampden-Sydney College
Dr. Leotus Morrison, James Madison University
Millie West, College of William & Mary
Dean Ehlers, James Madison University
Vic Fulp, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Wayne Block, Christopher Newport University
Jack Williams, Virginia Tech
Doyle Smith, University of Virginia
Kevin Keys, Liberty University & West Virginia University
Col. Earl “Bud” Skeens, Ferrum College
Dr. Jim Jarrett, Old Dominion University
Rich Murray, Virginia & James Madison
Dave Smith, Virginia Tech