EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – After 25 years as the Sports Information Director at SIUE, Eric Hess was recognized by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for his service in the business.
Hess was presented with the award at the annual CoSIDA convention in Orlanda, Florida, Wednesday.
Hess' road to becoming the SID at SIUE was an unconventional one. After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1988 with a bachelor's in journalism and mass communication, he began working at the Edwardsville Intelligencer as a sports reporter.
Soon after, Hess was hired as a graduate assistant in sports information by Steve Weller, the former SID at SIUE.
Three weeks into Hess' position, Weller pursued an opportunity with the USA baseball team in Seoul, South Korea, after serving in his position for nine years, leaving Hess completely in charge of the sports information department.
"Perhaps the best thing I ever did for Eric was immediately leave after three weeks," said Weller. "A month into the job, Eric handled everything. I never felt like I could give him something he couldn't handle. When I left SIUE in 1990, it was clear who would become the third SID in SIUE history."
Since then, Hess has been a dominant force in the industry, tackling new technology trends and the change from NCAA Division II to Division I as a seasoned veteran.
Hess put SIUE on the athletics map by creating the first web page designed solely for athletics at SIUE.
In 2012, Hess was honored by the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) with the Dr. Thomas Kearns Service Award. The award is presented to an individual or group that has contributed to the success of the GLVC as it relates to the NCAA Division II attributes of learning, balance, resourcefulness, sportsmanship, passion and service.
Since joining SIUE, Hess has been the host sports information contact for countless conference, NCAA Regional, and NCAA National Championships, including four NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships, the 1991 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship and the 2008 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship. He also served six years as a media relations associate for the NCAA Division II Basketball Championships in Louisville, Ky. He was a media liaison for the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival in St. Louis when SIUE was a host site for the wrestling and track and field events.
For years, Hess has been a highly-respected and well-known individual for coaches, media personnel, colleagues, and other sports information directors across the country.
Steve Weller, current Parker College Athletic Director, former SIUE SID on Hess:
While I immediately gained a lot of respect for Eric, I was not sure he returned the feeling in those early days. You see, back then the computer generation was about to hit. I was given one of the first-ever Macintosh Computers on the campus and had NO clue how to use it. Eric led the campaign to do something called the Internet and 25 years later, I still don't understand. He put SIUE on the map with an outstanding web page. While I thought this "computer age" would pass, Eric knew better and maintained the page despite my neutral feelings. He was an industry leader in sports information and still is. His work has not only won awards, but kept SIUE on the cutting edge.
Over my 24 years as an SID, I worked with many SIDs, but having Eric on my staff and seeing him become one of the most recognized leaders in the industry gives me a great deal of pride.
Dr. Brad Hewitt, SIUE Athletic Director:
It is rare in the sports industry to accomplish 25 years of service at any one institution or university.
Eric's accomplishment is a tribute to his commitment and passion for SIUE and his profession; and also his abilities to adjust, change, and grow with the changes in leadership and the growth of SIUE! We hope he can serve another 25 years if he so desires!
Steve Porter, writer at Alton ADVantage, former writer for Alton Telegraph, SIUE graduate '73:
He's a hard-working guy, thoroughly professional, and throws out the welcome mat for you at SIUE home games. He learned from the late, great Al Barnes and continues the Cougar tradition of excellence in public relations. When you think about it, SIUE has had just three SIDs (including Steve Weller) in its history and that kind of continuity through the years is astounding.
Brian Kunderman, Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations at SLU, Hess' former graduate assistant:
Eric is as dedicated of a sports information professional as they come. His passion for SIUE is on display every day in his communication with the media and the Cougars' student-athletes and staff. He was a pioneer and well ahead of the times during the emergence of the technology age, meticulously compiling standings and statistics online for the GLVC prior to the league having a full-time SID. I enjoyed my two years at SIUE working for – and learning from – Eric Hess. I congratulate Eric on being recognized at CoSIDA for the 25-year award.
Joe Pott, Broadcasting and Media Relations Specialist at SIUE:
The amount I have learned from Eric in the relatively short amount of time that I have been at SIUE is immeasurable. I have probably picked up something new from him just about every day that we have worked together. Perhaps more importantly, I have greatly enjoyed working with Eric. We have traveled together literally and figuratively as we have chronicled SIUE's journey to Division I, all while telling the stories of so many extraordinary student-athletes. I am proud to call Eric a colleague and lucky to have him as a friend.
Jason Coomer, Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs at SIUE:
Eric has demonstrated his love and passion not only for his profession, but more importantly for his university. His level of institutional knowledge coupled with his understanding of the ever-changing sports information world has allowed him to be recognized as one of the best in the industry.
Congratulations to Eric Hess on 25 successful years as the Sports Information Director at SIUE!