Dr. Chris Rich, an integral part of the Northwestern State sports medicine program for over three decades, will be presented the Distinguished Service Award by the university’s athletic letterwinners association on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the annual N-Club Hall of Fame ceremony.
Rich, an Alexandria orthopaedic surgeon and businessman, will be among 10 people honored during the 10 a.m. event open to the public in Prather Coliseum.
All-Americans Latrell Frederick and Jermaine Jones, NFL standout Floyd Turner, softball slugger Brandy Kenney, tennis star Barbara Tons and basketball professional Larry Terry will be inducted in the Hall, along with former softball and volleyball coach Rickey McCalister and retired athletic trainer Ed Evans. Becoming the second-ever recipient of the N-Club’s Leadership Award will be venerable NSU vice president Jerry Pierce.
Enshrinement in the N-Club Hall of Fame is the highest honor Northwestern bestows on its former competitors and staff. Those receiving N-Club Hall of Fame recognition are showcased in the brand-new N-Club display in Prather Coliseum.
The 2018 honorees will also be recognized that evening in Turpin Stadium during the Demon football team’s homecoming game against Houston Baptist.
Greg Burke, NSU’s director of athletics since 1996, praised Rich for his far-reaching impact and for his approach to his role with the department.
“Dr. Rich made an indelible mark on the sports medicine profile of the NSU athletic program for many years. Most noteworthy about his partnership with NSU Athletics was his unwavering commitment to the welfare of the student-athlete. He always found a way to work through hurdles with that mindset at the forefront of his thought process,” said Burke.
“To say that I, as an administrator, enjoyed and valued the working relationship I had with Dr. Rich would be an understatement. He is most deserving of this honor based on the contributions he made, in so many ways, to the NSU athletic program and to the field of sports medicine.”
Rich, a native of San Antonio, was a three-year football letterman as an offensive lineman at LSU from 1976-78, part of the Tigers’ fabled “Root Hogs” group that helped College Football Hall of Fame running back Charles Alexander set numerous school and Southeastern Conference records. Rich was a two-time Academic All-SEC selection in 1977-78.
From 1988-2011, Rich was managing partner of Mid State Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Center in Alexandria. In 1990, he became NSU Athletics’ Director of Sports Medicine and Head Team Physician, a role he handled through 2010.
More recently, he has served in a voluntary consulting role with NSU team physicians, the sports medicine staff and the Demons’ athletic administration, monitoring medical and health-related issues which have become impactful in intercollegiate athletics.
Rich also played a key role in promoting best practices and evidence-based medicine, as well as stewardship of financial resources related to medical care for NSU Athletics.
His practice specialized in sports medicine, arthroscopy of the knee and shoulder, and knee reconstruction. During his tenure as the chief physician for NSU Athletics, over 500 student-athletes sustained an injury requiring surgery, with an incredible rate of return to competition of 99 percent.
During his career with Mid State, the firm was twice (2004, 2007) designated as the top firm in Louisiana for orthopaedics by HealthGrades, the “Healthcare Quality Experts.”
Rich was inducted in the Louisiana Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2013 received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Louisiana Orthopaedic Association.