Pirates President Frank Coonelly to Speak at Bethany

9749coonelly90.jpgBETHANY, W.Va. – Frank Coonelly, President of the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be the keynote speaker at the Bethany College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Banquet on April 20, according to Tim Weaver, Director of Sports and Recreation.

The banquet, which will be at Benedum Commons on the Bethany campus, is an annual event hosted by SAAC in appreciation of the student-athlete. Every member of Bethany’s 20 varsity sports is invited, as well as coaches, athletic staff and administration.

“The SAAC Banquet is always one of the highlights of the year for the athletic department,” said Bethany head baseball coach and SAAC advisor Rick Carver. “This will be a wonderful event for the student-athletes to listen to someone as accomplished as Frank Coonelly. We are very grateful to Mr. Coonelly for taking the time to attend and are also grateful to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are great with their community outreach efforts.”

Coonelly was introduced on Sept. 13, 2007, as the Pirates President. In his role, he leads the organization’s senior management group and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the team. This includes being accountable for the organization’s success on and off the field.

Prior to joining the Pirates, Coonelly served as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Labor in the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, working under Bud Selig, who was Bethany’s Commencement Speaker in May, 2008. Coonelly’s work in that office included leading a staff of attorneys who represented the Commissioner and all 30 Major League Baseball teams in the litigation and arbitration of labor disputes, negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements with the Players Association and World Umpires Association and providing contract and economic advice and counsel to the 30 clubs.

All of the approximately 450 NCAA Division III colleges and universities have a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Weaver said. The mission of Bethany’s SAAC, which is congruent with the mission statement of the NCAA’s SAAC is “To enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare, and fostering a positive student-athlete image at Bethany College."

All 20 sports at Bethany are represented on the committee and over the years, the group has helped out in the community in a variety of ways. Their efforts include an annual campus clean-up in the fall, helping to sponsor a youth basketball dribbling team and assisting with the PAC SAAC’s Habitat for Humanity work.

In addition to Coonelly speaking at the banquet on the 20th, the evening will feature a buffet dinner, short speeches from every team representative recapping their season and a slide show with highlights throughout this past year.

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.