Photo by Brandon Whitford
An ASU staff member since 2000, Petty served as director of UREC for over 13 years and is now executive director of the Office of Student Affairs, of which UREC is a component. His impact on intramurals can be seen in the thousands of students who participate every semester utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. His impact on the staff in both UREC and Student Affairs is obvious from the multitude of nominations he received that led to his Gary and Pat Rodgers Distinguished Administrator Award for 2015–16.
“I knew I was nominated,” Petty said, “but at the awards ceremony I realized what a powerhouse list of nominees there was, and they all deserved the award. It’s really humbling to get the award, especially from the standpoint of being nominated by my staff.”
“I try very hard to support our staff, and my role is to make them shine,” he added. “So much has been given to me as an undergraduate, grad student and now a professional, and I want to give back. I want our student workers and staff to have the opportunities to succeed. That is my goal.”
When Petty arrived at ASU, he had already worked in rec sports and intramurals at several larger schools. His goal then was to use what he had learned to benefit ASU, and one of his first moves was to introduce the prospect of intramural teams competing in regional and national tournaments.
“The possibility of going to nationals was really the spark that led to more students getting involved with intramurals,” he said. “One of our basketball teams won a regional Schick Super Hoops 3-on-3 Tournament in Oklahoma, and then intramurals really blossomed. Once intramurals was thriving, we started looking at what else we could add.”
Further additions included a wider variety of available intramural sports and activities, as well as the campus Disc Golf Course. Petty also pushed for the Intramurals Fee that was added with the blessing of the student body and has led to a larger UREC staff, expanded programs, and improved fields and other facilities. ASU teams have since won multiple regional and national intramural championships, and the university has been recognized by The Princeton Review and BestColleges.com for its quality intramurals program, but Petty refuses to take much credit.
“I was just along for the ride,” he said. “Dan Robertson, who is now UREC director, and Jeromey Whitaker, who was our assistant director, they just started building the program, and now students want to be involved. It’s easy to grow your intramural and rec programs when students want to be involved.”
“I want our student workers and staff to have the opportunities to succeed. That is my goal.”
Despite his modesty, Petty is no stranger to individual awards. Besides his 2015–16 Rodgers Award, he won an ASU Staff Excellence Award in 2009, the same year he was inducted into the American Collegiate Intramural Sports Hall of Fame in New Orleans. He has also been honored by the American Red Cross and the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) for his service and leadership.
But long before he became the leader of ASU intramurals, he first discovered the joy of rec sports as an undergraduate at Sam Houston State University studying criminal justice. He applied to become an intramurals official to make some extra money, and his life has never been the same.
“I worked as an intramural official and then moved up to an intramurals supervisor,” Petty said. “I kept my criminal justice major, but worked in rec sports. When I got to my senior year, my director mentioned the possibility of me being a graduate assistant in rec sports, so that is when I changed over to rec sports for graduate school.”
In addition to being an All-American flag football official for NIRSA, Petty also started officiating off campus. He has umpired and refereed everything from Little League baseball to college football and still works West Texas high school football games. A native of Hallsville in Northeast Texas, he is in West Texas now to stay.
“When I came to visit the ASU campus, I fell in love with it,” Petty said. “At the time, ASU rec sports reported to the Kinesiology Department, and Dr. Melanie Croy was department head. I remember her telling me that Angelo State is a job killer because I would love it so much that I would never want to leave. The longer that I’m here, I understand exactly what she meant.”