The Honorable Tom McMillen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the LEAD1 Association, which represents the athletic directors and programs of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Founded in 1986 as the Division 1A Athletic Director’s Association, the LEAD1 Association has 131 members located in 41 states. While the mission of the LEAD1 Association remains the same in its dedication to the success of student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the playing field, for college and afterwards, the appointment of McMillen has ushered in a new era with the rebranding of the association with the name LEAD1 Association and the move of the headquarters to the Washington, D.C., area to be close to our nation’s policymakers. Essential to the direction of the LEAD1 Association under McMillen’s leadership is influencing how the rules of college sports are enacted and implemented, advocating for the future of college athletics, and providing various services to its members such as pooled purchasing arrangements to deliver better arrangements on goods and services.
McMillen, as a high school student, was the most highly recruited athlete of his era and the second high school student ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. While in high school, he was appointed to serve by then-President Richard Nixon on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, the youngest Presidential appointee ever. At the University of Maryland, McMillen was an All-American basketball player and still holds the school record for career scoring average. During his time at Maryland, McMillen was a member of the 1972 Olympic basketball team that refused to accept a silver medal after its controversial and disputed championship game with the Soviet Union. After graduating as valedictorian of his class at the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, McMillen was selected as a Rhodes Scholar (the first from the University of Maryland) and attended Oxford University where he received a Bachelor and Master of Arts in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. He then played eleven years in the NBA with the Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Washington Bullets, finishing his career in 1986 as the first and only active professional athlete to run for Congress.
From 1987 to 1993, McMillen served three consecutive terms from the Fourth District of Maryland in the United States House of Representatives. During his first term in Congress, McMillen was honored with an appointment to the Board of Overseers of the United States Naval Academy. In Congress, McMillen served on the Energy & Commerce Committee; the Banking, Finance, and Urban Committee; and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He was the cosponsor of the Student Right-to-Know Act, which required colleges and universities to disclose the graduation rates of its students and student-athletes. McMillen was also selected unanimously as president of the freshman class of the historic 100th United States Congress.
After leaving Congress, McMillen was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton as Co-Chair of the President’s Council on Fitness and Sports. He also founded several publicly traded companies and has been a successful entrepreneur. He was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland System, the Founding Chairman of the National Foundation on Physical Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, and the author of Out of Bounds, a book examining the influence of sports on ethics.
In May 1988, McMillen was inducted into the first Capital One Academic All-American Hall of Fame as a charter member. In 2002, the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), McMillen was chosen as one of the ACC’s Top 50 players of all time. In 2010, McMillen was inducted into the University of Maryland Alumni Hall of Fame and in 2013, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
McMillen was also a founding member of the Knight Foundation’s Commission on Intercollegiate Activities that investigated abuses in college sports. His op-eds and other articles have been published in periodicals such as The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, USA Today, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among many others.