AMHERST, MA - On Thursday, March 28th, LEADS staff, student-athletes, and students were joined by Mr. Ryan Bamford for the second Connection Dinner of the 2019 spring semester. Taking place at Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst Center, selected student-athletes, coaches, and members of the Amherst College community gathered to discuss the current topic First Amendment rights in professional sports.
The Connection Dinner is an event built specifically to bring a group of eclectic people together to speak about pertinent subjects to the Amherst College community. Listening to one another allows for awareness for others’ perspectives and meaningful dialogue brings engagement to resolving potential issues on campus.
Ryan Bamford was named the seventh permanent University of Massachusetts Director of Athletics on March 24, 2015. Prior to his arrival in Amherst, Bamford spent four seasons at Georgia Tech, including the last two as Senior Associate Director of Athletics. From August 2013-September 2014, Bamford oversaw internal and external operations. With Georgia Tech, he handled all operational aspects for football, baseball and men's basketball while also overseeing sports medicine, player performance, facilities and equipment and game operations. Bamford also played a key role with the Yellow Jackets in donor relations for fundraising scholarships, endowments and capital projects.
Bamford spent eight-plus years, including the last five as Senior Associate Director of Athletics, at Yale. He was the sport supervisor for the football, men's basketball and fencing programs. He was also responsible for overseeing Yale's event management team, equipment operations, sports medicine and strength and conditioning, along with internal operations.
Nationally, the New Hampshire native has served on a number of NCAA and Ivy League committees including four years on the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Committee, which he chaired in 2009 and 2010.
He began his college administration career at Springfield (Mass.) College. He has also served at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), Octagon Sports Marketing, Plymouth State University and the University of New Hampshire.A 2000 graduate of Ithaca (N.Y.) College, Bamford was a standout basketball player for the Bombers. He left Ithaca as the school's single-season and career leader in 3-point field goals, while finishing 13th on the career scoring list.
Bamford comes from a family devoted to higher education and professionalism within college athletics. His father, Steve, was the Director of Athletics at Plymouth State University for 13 years before joining the ECAC in 2000 as an assistant commissioner.
At the Connection Dinner, Mr. Bamford spoke to the guests about the impending First Amendment rules from the NFL. In May of 2018, the NFL passed a policy that required players to stand for the national anthem on the field or wait in the locker room to quell the ongoing debate. To this, many of the guests responded with their personal viewpoints on the perspective. Many of the student-athletes present offered alternatives to kneeling. For example, some hold hands to show their unity.
It is our hope that everyone walked away from the dinner learning a little something new and also meeting someone new. The idea of the Connection Dinner is meant to be taken and implemented on campus; always looking to opportunities to meet new people and learn new perspectives from others.