FAMU Athletic Director, UMES Hall of Famer + Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Famer
Maryland State College Alumnus


Maryland State College alumnus and three-time hall-of-famer Nelson Townsend was a staple among the nation’s athletic directors. Having served seven tenures as an athletic director at four different universities, including his alma mater University of Maryland Eastern Shore as well as at HBCUs Delaware State University and Florida A&M University, he is enshrined in the MEAC Hall of Fame, the UMES Hall of Fame and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame.

A native of the Eastern Shore’s Horntown, Virginia, Townsend held degrees from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore as well as Salisbury and Temple universities. Utilizing his four decades of experience as a director of athletics and administrator in education, Townsend’s career spanned athletics, student affairs, educational support services and secondary education. In his early career, he was a well-respected faculty member, counselor, vice principal and coach in the Worcester County, Maryland, School System. During his tenure at Delaware State, Townsend also helped move the Delaware State Hornets from Division II to Division I and helped establish its athletics hall of fame. Under his leadership, the Hornets won a total of 15 conference team championships. While at the University of Buffalo, Townsend oversaw the university’s move to from Division III to Division I in just three and a half years, and as chairman of the NCAA Olympic Liaison Committee and a member of the United States Olympic Committee, was instrumental in bringing the World University Games to Buffalo in 1993. Townsend died on January 8, 2015 having begun his third and final stint as athletic director at FAMU. Remembered as having a way about communicating with people, he had a reputation for taking every question — even difficult ones — with a smile. A leader in sports and educational administration at state, national and international levels he was eulogized as a man elevated from the “Hall of Fame to the Hall of Faith.”

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