Orange Watch: The human side of Syracuse athletic administrators

This week there will be no words on games, strategy, fans, players, media coverage, or anything of the like. Instead we focus on the Edson family of Jamesville, N.Y. who lost their dad Rob this past weekend to a suspected heart attack at the very young age of 45.

Rob’s wife Sue is the hall of fame director of athletic communications at SU; their children are Thomas and Tracey. As recently as the ACC Media Kickoff event in late July in Greensboro, we talked family with Sue over breakfast the final morning, how incredible time flies by as Thomas was soon to be thinking which college to attend, perhaps even Syracuse.

It was a sad weekend in Syracuse

For over 20 years, Rob worked his way up through the Syracuse athletic department to a senior associate AD post, overseeing finance and the football/basketball scheduling, while Sue also simultaneously rose through the ranks in the sports information office under her predecessor and fellow hall of fame member Larry Kimball.

As in any business environment, including Div. 1 college athletics, there is change, and following a Daryl Gross dictated department restructuring in the spring of 2011, Rob landed on his feet across town as the athletic director at Onondaga Community College, overseeing a school offering 21 men’s and women’s sports that have claimed a combined eight national junior college championships. After less than two years at OCC, Rob had already received the school’s 2013 Trustees Professional Administrators Award.

“Rob was a tireless worker and an outstanding administrator,” Gross said in a statement. “He had terrific composure regardless of the situation. He was loyal to and loved Syracuse University. We will miss him dearly but will never forget his contributions to making the athletic program better. Our hearts go out to his family as our village will always be there for the Edsons.”

During those two decades plus at Manley Field House, the Edsons, like all others in athletic departments across the country, dedicated professionals whose goal is to help the student-athletes (“the kids”) succeed both during and beyond their collegiate years, worked seven days a week practically every week during a school year calendar that would stretch 10 months, missing out on children’s activities and other normalcy’s of family life because of a hectic schedule both in the office and traveling to stadiums/arenas around the country.

As another school year would whizz by, the Edson clan would relish the annual summer respite of family vacation time to places like North Carolina’s Outer Banks to recharge for another year of Orange athletics.

As is symbolic of the Edson’s relishing their role as educators in athletics, SU has announced that a scholarship will be established in Rob’s name that will be awarded to Syracuse athletes who leave school before graduating but return to campus to complete their degree requirements.

Under these tragic circumstances, nothing could be more appropriate to honor Rob Edson’s legacy.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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