Northwestern State supporters will gather Saturday, Aug. 20 in Prather Coliseum to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Greg Burke taking the helm as the Demons’ director of athletics, marking the occasion with “Burke Bash: A Roast, Toast & Boast.
The Demons Unlimited Foundation is hosting the event, which begins at 6 p.m., includes dinner, and features a program and a post-roast party. Some of the proceeds go to the newly-established Greg Burke Athletic Scholarship, with additional revenue benefitting the DUF, the 501-c-3 non-profit entity that supports NSU Athletics.
Complete event information and online registration is available at NSUDemons.com/burkebash. Assistant athletics director Haley Blount is coordinating the Burke Bash and can be reached at email@example.com by e-mail or by calling 318-357-4278.
Former student-athletes, coaches and staff members, colleagues and supporters are encouraged to attend the Burke Bash, said Blount. Messages congratulating Burke can be sent to Blount at her e-mail or through the NSUDemons/burkebash website link.
Burke, a native Ohioan still beaming about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA title, has been the Demons’ athletics director since Aug. 29, 1996, when his first day included speaking at the annual NSU/Independence Bowl Kickoff Luncheon. Burke is the longest serving AD at any Louisiana or Southland Conference institution.
He has steered NSU athletics to many of its greatest accomplishments while overseeing a program that has fielded championship caliber teams in a dozen of the school’s 14 NCAA Division I sports.
Highlights in Burke’s two decades as athletic director include 41 Southland Conference regular-season or tournament championships, 67 All-America and Academic All-America student athletes, and three U.S. Olympic competitors. Twenty-five NSU teams have taken part in NCAA or other postseason competition.
Competitively, milestones continue. One of the biggest under Burke: NSU in 2004-05 became the first (and remains the only) Southland Conference member in the league’s five decades of history to sweep football, men’s basketball and baseball championships in the same athletic year. It’s been done only once in Southeastern Conference history, by Alabama in 1933-34, and only four times in Big Ten Conference history, the last time by Michigan State in 1979-80.
Those accomplishments have come with one of the more modest athletic budgets in the state and conference. Burke’s management skill and fundraising ability have been pivotal.
Burke serves on the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau board, and on the board of directors for the Central Louisiana Community Foundation. He is a past president of the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club and remains active in that civic group. He has also been part of the steering committee for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival and is a former member of the Natchitoches Area Jaycees. He is involved with the American Heart Association and was 2010 March of Dimes chairman locally.
His wife, Susu, is a Natchitoches native, NSU graduate and an elementary teacher. Their 22-year-old daughter, Catherine, graduated from St. Mary’s High School in May of 2012 and is entering graduate school at UL Lafayette after earning her undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech.