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Bob Gardner Named NFHS Executive Director


Contact: Bruce Howard

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (February 9, 2010) — Bob Gardner, who has served as chief operating officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for the past 10 years, has been chosen by the NFHS Board of Directors as the organization’s next executive director.  

Gardner was selected by the Board of Directors to succeed Bob Kanaby, who will be retiring on or about May 1 after serving as NFHS executive director for the past 17 years. Gardner will be the sixth executive director in the 90-year history of the NFHS, which is the national leadership organization for high school athletic and fine arts activities.

“We are pleased to announce Bob Gardner as the new executive director of the NFHS,” said Dr. Ennis Proctor, executive director of the Mississippi High School Activities Association and current NFHS president. “Bob has a long and successful background with our member state associations, along with his outstanding work as the chief operating officer for the past 10 years. The Board of Directors believes he is the ideal candidate to continue to move this organization forward in the years to come.”

Gardner, 61, has been involved in high school athletics in the state of Indiana throughout his entire 40-year career in secondary education. He started as a teacher and coach in 1970 and concluded as commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) for five years prior to joining the NFHS staff in 2000.

From 1970 to 1978, Gardner was an English teacher and coach at West Washington High School, Milan High School and Scottsburg High School. He coached football, basketball, baseball and track, and also served as athletic director at Scottsburg.

In 1978, Gardner began his high school administrative career, serving as principal of Milan Junior-Senior High School and was named superintendent of the Milan Community Schools. While at Milan, Gardner was a member of the IHSAA Board of Directors.

Gardner joined the IHSAA staff as assistant commissioner in 1985 and served 10 years in that role prior to becoming commissioner in 1995.            

Among his notable accomplishments at the IHSAA, Gardner led the change in the IHSAA football playoffs to permit participation by all schools, negotiated the association’s largest corporate sponsorship agreement in history with Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance  and led the transition to multiple classes in team sports. He also was instrumental in the IHSAA winning a landmark Indiana Supreme Court case affirming the restitution rule and a Federal Court case protecting the state’s right to enforce eligibility standards.

During his years with the IHSAA, Gardner was a voting member of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and served on the NFHS Football Officials Manual Committee. He also chaired the Fiscal/Funding Subcommittee of the NFHS Strategic Planning Committee.

As chief operating officer of the NFHS since July 1, 2000, Gardner has chaired the NFHS Rules Review Committee, an internal committee composed of all NFHS rules editors. He has been responsible for NFHS insurance programs and the NFHS committee nomination process. He represented the NFHS on the NCAA Anti-Gambling Task Force, has been a presenter at numerous state and national meetings, and has served on the USA Football Board of Directors.

Gardner, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville (Indiana) and his master’s and Ed.S. degrees from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, previously served on the USA Basketball Board of Directors and the Indiana Sports Corporation Board of Directors, and he is a member of the Indiana High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Previous executive directors of the NFHS were L.W. Smith (1920-27), C.W. Whitten (1927-40), H.V. Porter (1940-58), Cliff Fagan (1958-77), Brice Durbin (1977-93) and Bob Kanaby (1993-2010).

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and Rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing Rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.5 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; produces publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, speech and debate coaches and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at

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