Former Bulldog Part Of Sports Speaker Series

Bulldog Alum Ira Childress will be back on campus to speak
Bulldog Alum Ira Childress will be back on campus to speak

Big Rapids, Mich. - A former Ferris State University student-athlete and employee will return to campus for a special speaking engagement on Monday (March 28) as the Sports Communication Program continues its Sports Speaker Series with three sessions in the next one-week period.

Ira Childress, who currently serves as the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Assistant Director for Leadership Development at the national headquarters in Indianapolis, will speak to sports communication students at Ferris State about his role in the field.

Childress played football at Ferris in the late 1990's and was a member of the school's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championship team in 1999.  He later served as the Associate Alumni Relations Director at FSU prior to his NCAA appointment. 

Monday's presentation will take place in Room 111 of the Business Building on the FSU campus at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on Monday.  It is open to the general public along with all sports communication students.

In his role with the NCAA, Childress is responsible for administering the Future Football Coaches Academy, the NCAA and NFL Football Coaches Academy, the NCAA and NFL Life Skills and Professional Development Summit along with the NCAA Sports and Entertainment Summit. Childress received his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Speech Communication and a Master of Education degree, both from Ferris State University. His professional experiences in broadcast journalism have allowed him to cover such events as the NBA Finals, the World Series, and the Super Bowl.

Childress also oversees the Division II Coaching Enhancement Grant, as well as the Diversity Education program, which conducts on-campus diversity education workshops to member institutions providing a positive learning environment that teaches the values of diversity in maximizing team effectiveness.

The Sports Speaker Series enables students to learn about careers in national sports organizations with helpful hints about entering the field from a Ferris State University graduate.  It is part of Ferris' spring 2011 sports communication course, a 300-level class taught by professor Sandy Alspach and the capstone course for the university's Sports Communication minor.

The course examines how participants and observers of sports communicate. As part of their work, students of the course and the academic minor break down how the sports industry has evolved and how it grows as a cultural phenomenon. Students study how sports organizations function through the integration of athletes, managers and audiences through communication.

Prior to Childress' speaking engagement next week, the Sports Speaker Series' continues this Wednesday (March 23) with FSU alum Askia Allison ('99), an international kickboxing champion and coach slated to speak at 4:30 p.m. (ET) in the IRC Building Room 115.

Additionally, Grand Rapids Press Sports Editor Mary Ullmer will speak the following Wednesday (March 30) at 4:30 p.m. (ET) in IRC 115 with a special dinner to follow inside the private dining room at The Rock on the FSU campus.  Seating is limited for both sessions in the IRC building.

"We are fortunate that so many staff, alumni and friends of Ferris sports have stepped forward to participate in class discussions with the students in the new Sports Communication course,” Alspach said.

“I’m especially grateful to (Ferris) Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger, who has worked with us to identify and coordinate speakers,” she added. “Together, in our first year, we are building a strong base for this program to grow and provide a strong bridge between the academic program and the athletic program at Ferris.”

For more information on the sports speaker series, please contact Sandy Alspach at (231) 591-2779 or email