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Bob Kanaby Announces Retirement as NFHS Executive Director


Contact: Bruce Howard or John Gillis 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (November 2, 2009) — Bob Kanaby, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) since March 1993, has announced his plans to retire, effective May 2010. 

Kanaby informed the NFHS Board of Directors of his retirement plans at the regularly scheduled Board meeting last week in Indianapolis. The Board will be formulating a timetable for the process of identifying Kanaby’s successor in the coming weeks. 

Kanaby is the fourth full-time executive director to lead the Indianapolis-based national leadership organization for high school athletic and fine arts activities, following H.V. Porter (1940-58), Clifford Fagan (1958-77) and Brice Durbin (1977-93). 

“I have been honored to have had the opportunity to promote the core values and purposes of education-based athletics and activities,” Kanaby said. “It has been a journey filled with countless blessings and positive memories associated with young adults and those dedicated individuals who serve them.” 

Since joining the NFHS 16 years ago, Kanaby has been instrumental in creating a stronger national presence of the organization throughout the country. Behind Kanaby’s leadership, the NFHS is currently in its fifth three-year strategic plan focusing on national presence, as well as financial and organizational issues. 

In recent years, the education of high school coaches and an ongoing mission to protect and promote a positive, education-based culture in high school sports and activities have been among his top priorities. In January 2007, the NFHS started its own Coach Education Program, and more than 90,000 coaches have already taken the core course – Fundamentals of Coaching.  

In 2006, through Kanaby’s leadership, the NFHS entered a partnership with T-Mobile USA, Inc., which included the first-ever national event sponsored by the NFHS – the T-Mobile Invitational, a high school basketball tournament that was conducted in Seattle in 2006, Albuquerque in 2007 and Muncie, Indiana in 2008. This year’s tournament will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, in December.  

In addition, under Kanaby’s guidance, the NFHS has taken a major proactive role in steroid awareness at the high school level with the creation of the “Make the Right Choice” campaign. In 2005, the NFHS produced two 12-minute videos on one DVD, brochures and posters to help educate high school administrators, athletic directors, coaches, parents and students on steroid abuse. More than 16,000 high schools nationwide received this multimedia package. 

In early 2000, Kanaby was instrumental in moving the NFHS national office from Kansas City, Missouri, to Indianapolis, Indiana, adjacent to the new office of the NCAA. Since moving to Indianapolis, Kanaby has worked closely with the NCAA on a number of key issues, including amateurism and preserving Friday nights for high school football. He also was instrumental in starting a National Student Leadership Conference for high school activity participants in Indianapolis. In 2003, Kanaby secured three major partnerships, including Universal Cheerleaders Association. 

Because of his strong beliefs about the importance that citizenship issues should play in high school activity programs, Kanaby was the leader in the organization of the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance. The CTSA is composed of the school-college community organizations, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the four major professional sports organizations and is seeking to create a sports culture in the United States that supports those values necessary to teach and learn respect for self and respect for others. 

To help high school coaches impart values such as respect and sportsmanship into their daily lesson plans, Kanaby was the driving force behind the production of the NFHS Citizenship Through Sports and Fine Arts Curriculum, and the Parents as Partners in Citizenship Kit. These materials provide numerous teachable moments for high school coaches to use with student-athletes. 

In his early years as NFHS executive director, Kanaby was responsible for improving the financial position of the organization. In 1996, he started the NFHS Foundation, which has awarded more than $170,000 in grants to member state high school associations. In 1999, he was the driving force behind the creation of the NFHS Authenticating Mark, which has helped promote a level playing field by ensuring consistency in the equipment used in NFHS-sanctioned competition.  

Other major events that have occurred under Kanaby’s guidance include education programs for high school coaches and officials, national magazines for high school coaches and officials, a national magazine sent to every high school in the country (High School Today) and a national injury surveillance program for high school sports.  

Since Kanaby joined the NFHS as executive director in 1993, participation in high school sports has grown from 5.4 million to the current all-time record of 7.5 million.  

Prior to joining the NFHS, Kanaby was executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) for 13 years. During this time, Kanaby was a frequent contributor to NFHS programs. He was involved with the development and implementation of the Walt Disney World National Dreamers and Doers program and served three years as chairman of the Dreamers and Doers Selection Committee. 

Kanaby also served on the NFHS Football Rules Committee, Telecommunications Committee and Appeals Committee. He was a popular speaker at the National Athletic Directors Conference, as well as the NFHS Summer Meeting. During the past 16 years as NFHS executive director, Kanaby has spoken to many groups across the country regarding the values of high school activity programs. 

Kanaby earned his bachelor’s (1961) and master’s (1968) degrees from Jersey City State College after graduating from St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. He also has earned an additional 60 credits beyond his master’s at Rutgers and Lehigh Universities.  

Prior to beginning his high school administrative career in 1968, Kanaby was a teacher and coach at several New Jersey high schools. He was a health teacher and coach at his alma mater, St. Anthony High School, from 1957 to 1961; a coach and English/social studies teacher at Union Hill High School in Union City, New Jersey, from 1961 to 1966, and a coach and reading consultant at Bridgewater-Raritan High School East from 1966 to 1968. 

Kanaby was vice principal four years (1968-72) at Bridgewater-Raritan High School East and then served as principal at South Hunterdon Regional High School (1972-78) and Hunterdon Central Regional High School (1978-80) before becoming executive director of the New Jersey association in July 1980. 

Kanaby has served on the Boards of Directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Basketball and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He has received the Award of Honor from the NJSIAA and was inducted into the charter class of the NJSIAA Hall of Fame. In 2000, he received the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Award of Merit, and he also has been honored with the first-ever Ethics and Integrity Award from the Ohio High School Athletic Association. In 2007, Kanaby was named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport. 

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