Collected Wisdom: Eddie Griffin, Executive director of the Jim Thorpe Association

by Jacob Unruh Published: November 10, 2012
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I was really fortunate when I came in (at UCO) because I always tell everybody (Jimmy Rogers) kind of loaded the bus for that ‘79 team and I just got to drive it.

I found out that people are basically the same all over. In talking with the parents of these student-athletes, they all want the best thing for their kid and as we did; we wanted to have good student-athletes in.

We started the Jim Thorpe All-Star Games back in those days with Oklahoma City kids, giving those kids a chance to participate in an all-star event that was different than the All-State games because some of the Oklahoma City schools had great athletes but sometimes they weren't recognized. 

The dynamics at NSU was a little different. What a lot of people don't realize is that when I went there, they weren't fully funded in scholarships in football. It took several years to get the scholarships up to where it was equitable to what the limits were.

The mascot change was a tough thing for everybody. It was one of those things that the train was already on the track; you couldn't stop it. I know we got a letter from the NCAA about the mascot change and that we hadn't done it. It was one of those things that we needed to do, or had to do, because of the Native American heritage thing.

I think the thing I learned from that is something that I probably already really knew, but didn't really think about, is the passion for schools that people have, and the passion for athletics, and the loyalty that people have to their schools and their mascots. It really runs deep and it doesn't matter if it's Northeastern State or UCO or OU or OSU, the passion runs deep and people have strong feelings.

Seeing the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame develop from what you see now; four years ago there wasn't anything here but the shell of the building. It's been amazing to see the transformation here.

There's not a lot of people that get to talk to Barry Switzer and Pat Jones and J.W. Mashburn and John Smith and all of those people just to visit with them on different issues every once and a while. 

Shirley and I have been married 43 years. Actually, she's the brains of the family, and the beauty.

For her it's probably been a hard life. For me, it's been great. Every time we go somewhere everybody goes, “You married Shirley?” and I go, “Yeah,” They go, “Man, how did that happen?” I married way above my pay grade.

You've got to set goals and then you've got to be man enough to do what you need to do to reach your goals. Whatever you need to do to make yourself better, that's what you do.

by Jacob Unruh
Reporter
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the...
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