Getting to Know: Dr. Richard Carmichael
Former Deacon basketball player is Wake Forest's longtime Faculty Athletic Representative
May 4, 2012
Serving as a Faculty Athletic Representative since 2003, Dr. Richard Carmichael can relate to the balancing act of being a student-athlete. Dr. Carmichael, a 1964 graduate of the University, played basketball under Coach Bones McKinney and totaled 584 career points and 340 rebounds. During his first season in 1962, Dr. Carmichael helped the Demon Deacons reach the Final Four.
Carmichael received both his master's degree and Ph.D. in mathematics from Duke University and returned back to Wake Forest in 1971. Since 1980, Dr. Carmichael has been keeping statistics at home football and basketball games.
WakeForestSports.com's Maggie Cancelosi sat down with Dr. Carmichael to talk about his role as a Faculty Athletic Representative, his favorite memories as a student-athlete at Wake Forest and his love for keeping statistics.
Q: Explain your role as Faculty Athletic Representative?
A: Basically, the Faculty Athletic Representative is meant to be a person in between academics and athletics. An important part of the role is that the person is a voting member on the Faculty Athletics Committee. Therefore, the person should be pretty knowledgeable about items that come up there, and can provide a perspective that will be helpful to any of the committees' deliberations. As a Faculty Athletic Representative, all of us at the various schools provide as officers of the ACC, this is on a rotating basis, and we are the voters at ACC meetings. Like the ADs and the SWAs and other people, we serve on committees of the Conference. Additionally, I'm a member of the NCAA Financial Aid Cabinet, so a faculty representative can be appointed from the conference to one of those cabinets.
Now, on the campus, one of the main activities that I'm involved with is the declaration of eligibility for the students to play. There are rules in the NCAA handbook, with respect to GPA and progress toward degree, so at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semester, myself and a person in the Registrar's Office work in cooperation with the counselors in the Student. We go through all of the transcripts of the student-athletes and declare whether they are eligible or not according to the NCAA rules. That's an important activity of the Faculty Athletic Representative as I see it. Another thing that I do here is in the selection of the Wake Forest Sports Hall of the Fame. The Faculty Athletic Representative is the chair of the committee that selects the Hall of Fame inductees.
Q: Are there any special moments that stick out in your role as Faculty Athletic Representative?
A: I think that the thing that has given me a lot of satisfaction, and this brings up something else that the Faculty Athletic Representative does, is that I nominate student-athletes to receive post-graduate scholarships to either the ACC or to the NCAA.
In the ACC, there are the Weaver-James-Corrigan post-graduate scholarships, and three student-athletes from each school can receive one of the post-graduate scholarships if they meet certain requirements. There's a minimum GPA and you also need some athletic honors, so I nominate them, and if they satisfy the requirements they're going to get it. It's not so cut and dry with respect to the NCAA post-graduate scholarships, because there, it gets pretty competitive as to what credentials you need to have because it's nationwide. We have had a number of our student-athletes get those, so that's really satisfying. We also had about four or five years ago, a young lady named Anne Bersagel, who was a cross country and track runner and was the NCAA Woman of the Year. I had nominated her, and you don't nominate many people for that. She was basically a 4.0 student with multiple All-American Honors with her running.
Q: How does it benefit you that you were a former student-athlete at Wake Forest?
A: I feel that it absolutely helps me, because I was a student-athlete, and I was an interested student, and I was very competitive so I wanted to do well athletically also. If students tell me that they didn't do well on something because they were tired, I remember it very well.
Q: What are your fondest memories of your playing career?
A: My fondest memory is the following--from 1959-60 when I was a high school senior that year, through my college senior year '63-'64, Wake Forest was either first or second in the regular season and played for the ACC Tournament Championship every year. I had something to do with three of those years. I'm pretty sure that there hasn't been an equivalent continuous time span in which our basketball team was that competitive.
Q: What are your most memorable sporting events at Wake Forest?
A: The game that jumps out to me when you say that is always the same game--it was the Auburn-Wake Forest football game in '79, that year both teams were ranked in the top 20. Wake Forest got behind and caught up in the second half and won. The fans were going crazy--I was sitting in the stands and I looked back up to where the Deacon Club members were sitting, and they were just going berserk. It was just the best game with getting behind and catching up against a top-20 ranked team.
Q: Are there any student-athletes in particular that stand out during your time as Faculty Athletic Representative?
A: Of course I have to name Tim Duncan because he was so good, but I can tell you my favorite basketball team since I came back here as a Faculty member. In the mid-to-late 70s, the coach was Carl Tacy and the players were Rod Griffin, Skip Brown, Jerry Schellenberg, Leroy McDonald, and Larry Harrison, and that basketball team was good, motivated and played hard. They all had all the ingredients. Schellenberg was a feisty guy that would dive for balls, Skip Brown was a really good point guard, one year Rod Griffin was the conference's leading scorer and rebounder, and they got to the Final Eight the year that I'm thinking about and had some really exciting NCAA games. I enjoyed them, and there have been lots of good athletes and it's hard to name just one or two.
Q: In your role of keeping statistics for Wake Forest football and basketball, do you have any special memories or events that stand out?
A: The most amazing stat that I ever recorded was maybe in 1992 and Florida State had Charlie Ward, and he was the Heisman football winner his senior year and he also played basketball. He and their other guard were very good, and in the game of Florida State vs. Wake Forest played here, Charlie Ward had eight steals. I don't give steals easily. A steal for me is that you need to steal it, get it in your hands, take it away and control it. I don't give a steal for slapping it out of bounds. Maybe somebody since then has had six steals, but not eight. That's been the most outstanding statistic that I've taken.
Q: How satisfying is it to meet freshmen when they come on campus and then to watch them graduate four years later?
A: I think by and large that's the case. They do mature and it's satisfying to see the students graduate. That's what they're here for as far as I'm concerned. Some, though not many, might not think that. They might think that they're in transition before they make lots of money playing pro ball, but in fact, comparatively that almost never happens. They need to really pay attention to their academics because that's what is providing them with a foundation for the future. There are some students who haven't quite gotten it when they arrive--not only athletes, but for any student, who didn't have to work or they weren't interested in working in high school. It's gratifying to me to see any student that progresses, gets interested and moves on to graduate. That's satisfying.