DALLAS — Wright Waters, current Football Bowl Association executive director and formerly commissioner of both the Southern and Sun Belt conferences, has been named a recipient of the Football Writers Association of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Waters, a longtime FWAA member, will be honored at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans, the Media Hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Previous recipients of the FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award: Art Spander (2013), Bill Little (2014), Irv Moss (2015), Buddy Davis (2016), Mike Finn (2017) and Dave Plati (2018). The award goes to an FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to college football and/or the FWAA.
“I am honored, humbled and flattered to be recognized by an organization that I admire so much,” Waters said. “I have always admired the FWAA’s standards of excellence and professionalism. Thank you for your consideration, I accept on behalf of so many people who have mentored and assisted me on this grand journey of a career.”
Waters will be retiring from his current post as the FBA’s executive director in April. The first executive director of the FBA, Wright has served in his current position since June 2012. His responsibilities for the FBA included the overall management of the non-profit organization: finances, administration, government relations, marketing, licensing and legal issues.
Prior to taking over as the FBA executive director, Waters was the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference for 14 years and before that had a stint as the Southern Conference commissioner. He was instrumental in securing the Sun Belt’s status as a Bowl Championship Series conference and a place in Division I-A (now Football Bowl Subdivision). He was one of the original founders of the New Orleans Bowl, serving as a driving force in establishing the bowl as a landing spot for the Sun Belt’s football champion each year.
Earlier in his career, Waters served on athletic staffs at Southern Mississippi, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana) and Tulane.
Over the years Waters has served on several NCAA, bowl and athletic administrative committees and collected various awards on the state and national level. The Sun Belt renamed its regular season football championship trophy the H. Wright Waters Trophy in 2012.
Waters has worked closely with the FWAA over the years in trying to improve press conditions in media operations at major-college bowls.
“Wright Waters has worn several hats in the administration of college football, but he always has had an appreciation for the FWAA, the news media in general, and accommodating their needs to get the story out,” FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said. “Helping people understand college football in various areas has been a strong point of his. As both commissioner of the Sun Belt and Southern conferences and lately keeping the bowls under control from an organizational and promotional sense, Waters has always been top-notch.”