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Ruggiero Named Winner of MW’s Yates Award for Distinguished Service

by Frank Mercogliano

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Janice Ruggiero, UNM’s recently retired Deputy Athletic Director for Internal Affairs has been named as a recipient of the Mountain West’s Dr. Albert C. Yates Distinguished Service Award.  Along with Ruggiero, late long-time athletic communications lead Lawrence Fan of San José State also was named as a winner of the award.  Together, they become just the 13th and 14th winners in the league’s nearly 25-year history.

The Dr. Albert C. Yates Distinguished Service Award is presented to an individual who has served, supported and promoted the goals and ideals of the Mountain West or a member institution; an individual who, through personal effort and dedication, has enhanced the ability of the conference and/or its member institutions to provide a positive experience for the student-athletes enrolled at any member institution.

The award is chosen by the MW Recognition Committee, made up of two athletic directors, two senior women administrators and two faculty athletic representatives.

Ruggiero is the fourth Lobo to earn the honor, joining Breda Bova (FAR) in 2013-14, Rudy Davalos (AD) in 2005-06, and Linda Estes (former Sr. Assoc. A.D. and champion of women’s athletics), the first winner in 1999-2000.

Ruggiero retired in January after a 32-year career as an administrator at UNM, and that followed a three-year career on the Lobo women’s basketball team.  She retired as the Deputy A.D. for Internal Affairs, a position she held from December of 2015.  Prior to that she served as the Associate Athletic Director for Internal Affairs for 15 years. She spent her final 22 years with UNM serving as the department’s Senior Woman Administrator.

UNM has provided me an education, a career, and a lifetime of memories. I love this University and my home state of New Mexico, and I am forever grateful for the people I’ve met along the way. I am proud to be a Lobo for Life. GO LOBOS!

Janice Ruggiero

In 2017, she served as the Interim Athletic Director after the retirement of Paul Krebs under the hiring of current Vice President/Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez in 2017.

Said Nuñez of Ruggiero, “Janice has been a stalwart and a leader at UNM.  From her time as a student-athlete to her time in administration, Janice’s love for her home has always shown in her passion towards everything she has done. In her 30-plus years at UNM Athletics one thing that has remained as her guiding light, and it’s her dedication is her true commitment to the student-athletes.”

Nuñez added, “I cannot ever thank Janice enough for everything she did for me as a new AD. Through it all her friendship, her patience, and her loyalty towards UNM has been unwavering. It didn’t matter who, what, when or how, if you asked Janice to help with something, she was going to do everything possible to make it happen.”

Along with her work at UNM, touching and effecting the lives of thousands of student-athletes, Ruggiero made a significant impact on the national stage, putting UNM in the best of lights.  From 2002-04, she served on the prestigious NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee, and from 2008-14, she was a member of the NCAA Legislative Council.  Concurrently from 2011-14, she was on the Women’s Basketball Rules Committee, and that was followed by a stint on the Women’s Basketball Oversite Committee from 2015-18.

In 2015 College AD named her one of the Top 10 Senior Woman Administrators in college athletics.

Ruggiero is still a part of the Lobo family, as after retirement she moved over to the UNM Foundation.   She was a stand-out student-athlete from 1984-87, lettering three seasons.  She was assuredly have broken the 1,000-point barrier for her career had the program not been discontinued after the 1986-87 season.

“UNM has provided me an education, a career, and a lifetime of memories. I love this University and my home state of New Mexico, and I am forever grateful for the people I’ve met along the way. I am proud to be a Lobo for Life. GO LOBOS!” said Ruggiero.

Albert C. Yates Distinguished Service Award Winners:

2021-22 Janice Ruggiero, New Mexico; Lawrence Fan, San José State
2017-18 Dr. Jim Francis, Colorado State
2013-14 Breda Bova, New Mexico; Marti Gasser, Air Force
2012-13 Sally Roush, San Diego State
2010-11 Dr. Stephen Weber, San Diego State
2007-08 Barbara Burke, Wyoming
2006-07 Marsha Smeltzer, Colorado State; Larry Gerlach, Utah
2005-06 Rudy Davalos, New Mexico
2004-05 Elaine Michaelis, BYU
2000-01 LaVell Edwards, BYU
1999-00 Linda Estes, New Mexico