KHSAA commissioner DeVries retiring in July

Brigid DeVries, the first female commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, will retire in July, when her current four-year contract expires.

DeVries, who has been with the KHSAA since 1979 and has served as commissioner since 2002, announced her decision Wednesday.

"Thirty is a nice round number," she said.

"I've seen a lot of changes over the years, and they've all been good. One thing that hasn't changed, that's made the KHSAA a success, is the good people who work here."

DeVries said she will pursue other interests, including writing and perhaps teaching.

The KHSAA's Board of Control will start the process for finding its seventh commissioner when it meets Jan. 13.

Julian Tackett, a longtime assistant commissioner, said he would like to be considered for the position.

Tackett, who has worked with DeVries for three decades, said her greatest accomplishment was expanding "opportunities for kids, with an emphasis on female participation. Kids are participating a whole lot more, and that's a good thing."

Board of Control President Dave Weedman lauded DeVries' willingness to listen.

"The thing she does so well is that she's open to new ideas," he said. "She's been very inclusive about inviting new folks in and getting new ideas. The things we do now are amazing.

"This association continues to move forward and expand, and our events keep getting better. I think she's been a great leader for us."

DeVries said her 30 years with the KHSAA have "always been entertaining and fun." She remembered the "simpler times" when there were "no faxes, no computers, no e-mail and no iPhones," when she helped sharpen 150 pencils to be used to record results of the state track and field meet.

Under her leadership, DeVries said the KHSAA has embraced technology.

The KHSAA museum has taken shape during DeVries' reign, and she hopes to stay involved in that project after she retires.

DeVries also noted how the KHSAA is in "the national picture," having had three of its staff members chair National Federation rules committees in three sports. "That shows the capabilities of our personnel," she said.

As for the challenges ahead for her successor, DeVries predicted "increased litigation" in eligibility disputes, and noted that there is still an "undercurrent" of unrest between public and private schools.

"Our membership is only strong if everybody agrees to abide by the rules," she said.

DeVries graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1971. She was UK's men's and women's diving coach from 1980-90 and is a member of UK's swimming and diving Hall of Fame.