Michael Brown is the self-described ultimate sports fan.
“I get to watch sports for a living and I get to tell other people about it,” joked Brown, the senior athletic director for external operations for Palm Beach Atlantic University.
In fact, Brown serves in several important roles in support of Sailfish Athletics and its 200 student athletes. One of his main duties involves overseeing all of PBA’s home events, such as dealing with officials, visiting teams and facilities.
Throughout the season, Brown is a fixture at many games, sometimes working as the announcer or photographer, or showcasing his talent as a broadcaster on the Sailfish Sports Network.
His skills proved invaluable as PBA successfully hosted two NCAA regional tournaments for the first time last academic year and another two regional tournaments this year.
Though his work is largely behind the scenes, his calm, professional manner in these duties has not gone unnoticed. The PBA community recently recognized Brown for his many contributions by presenting him with the Employee of the Year Award.
Candidates for this honor are nominated by their peers, and a committee selects the recipient. The selection criteria include an individual’s outstanding contributions, and the employee also must exemplify the standards and core values of PBA: accountability, excellence, integrity, love, respect and unity.
Additionally the employee must meet at least three of five criteria — professionalism, customer focus, quality of work, teamwork or innovation.
In nominating Brown for the award, colleagues described him as a “consummate professional with a strong focus on customer service,” someone who “deals with numerous uncontrollable factors in his job” and who is a “reliable team player who is dependable and so very kind with each and every interaction.”
Director of Athletics Carolyn Stone said Brown has been a loyal Sailfish for nearly a decade. “He welcomes new challenges and is eager to grow the Sailfish Athletics brand, striving daily to develop Christian game changers,” she said. “Sailfish Athletics would not have experienced our tremendous growth and success without his contributions and commitment.”
Senior Athletic Director for External Operations Michael Brown (left) receives the Employee of the Year award from President William M. B. Fleming Jr. during Community Day.
Mary Jacobs, who serves as director of special projects and parent relations for PBA, said that it’s always a pleasure to work with Brown.
“He represents the Athletic Department on a number of projects we have worked on, and he always goes above and beyond to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said Jacobs, who was the Employee of the Year honoree in 2013.
Brown, who is now in his 10th year at PBA, said he was humbled by the honor. “I feel that I represent a department that strives to live out the PBA mission every day with our students.”
He traces his affinity for sports back to his childhood. Although he appreciates all sports, baseball is his first love, he said.
The son of college professors, Brown was born in Georgia and grew up in Marion, Indiana. His family moved to Starkville, Mississippi, where he attended high school.
After graduation he enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan University, where he worked in athletics while working toward a degree in business administration. He later earned a master’s degree in athletics administration from the University of California-Pennsylvania.
Early in his career, Brown worked in minor-league baseball for such teams as the Charlotte Knights and the Fort Wayne Wizards. He later accepted a position as sports information director at Graceland University in Iowa.
He came to Palm Beach Atlantic as sports information director, later serving as assistant athletic director for communications for three years before being promoted to his current role in 2013.
He is a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (COSIDA) and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Brown said that the collegiate athletics scene is where he feels most at home. “I have been around colleges my whole life,” he said. “I love serving and impacting students more than anything else.”