Hard work and contributions in his job earned class of 1990 alumnus Chris Kaufman recognition within his company, not only on an office basis, but also company-wide. Kaufman is the assistant commissioner for the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Through his contributions, Kaufman has helped numerous high schools throughout Indiana during his 12 years of work at IHSAA.
“It’s humbling, number one, because you don’t do the work that we do for schools, for kids and for accolades,” Kaufman said. “You do it because you love doing it and to be recognized for that is very humbling.”
The award is a mark of recognition within the IHSAA. Its larger association, the National Federation of State High School Associations, gives this award to someone in Indiana every five years. The length of time in between each award is because Indiana is part of the division of the NPSHA that includes Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. The award rotates between these each year and this year, it came to Indiana. The commissioners and directors were able to nominate one employee for the award and Kaufman was that employee.
Commissioner Bobby Cox said he nominated Kaufman because of his work for the company, his dedication and his cooperation with others, among other things. According to Cox, Kaufman has brought in revenue within their partnerships, inherited administration of four sports and has oversight of the broadcast network that the company has to produce its own media coverage. These factors included by his “excellent” work ethic, as Cox describes it, were the reasons why Cox chose to nominate Kaufman.
“I think Chris’ work ethic is exemplary, he always is seeking to do the extra effort,” Cox said. “We’re always looking for our people to put in the extra effort in all their work and do it with excellence, Chris does that work with a high level of excellence and distinction, he’s always thinking new things to do. [He’s] very progressive and forward thinking, he’s very welcoming in our environment he’s receptive to instruction, he’s the kind of guy that is a team guy.”
While in college, Kaufman decided that he wanted to go into sports with his business administration degree because of his close work with the former sports information director, Joe Gentry. The coaches that he encountered in his experience, including the coach of the football team at UIndy, encouraged him to go into the high school level.
After working at Cathedral High School in Indy, Kaufman built up connections through his position in sports information. Writing articles and contacting the media every day for 16 years, the job built his name up throughout the state, and he said that the position he is currently in was not one that he was planning on undertaking.
“That network [from Cathedral] has probably led me to the job I’m in now,” Kaufman said. “I don’t think [the job is] anything that I sought out after or wanted to get to, it just kind of evolved and when this position became available here at the IHSAA, I applied for it,” Kaufman said.
According to Kaufman, his experiences gained from UIndy showed him that he did not want to go the corporate route of his job. He was able to receive help along the way from his past coaches and his father who was also a coach. Kaufman said that these factors made him want to give back what he had received. The connection that he had to the public while going back into using his Cathedral experience and also coaching experience, has led Kaufman on a path of success, which has been noticed by his peers.
“[This award is] not meaning others are not doing excellent work because they are, but when I looked at Chris’ body of work dealing with our corporate partners and sponsors, administration with sports, his ability to go above and beyond for the association, for the betterment of our group,” Cox said. “I thought it was appropriate to single him out and give him that recognition.”