The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association has announced the appointment of Penny Allen-Cook as the conference’s ninth commissioner.
Allen-Cook will succeed current Commissioner David Neilson effective July 1, 2014, said Dr. Steven M. Corey, president of Olivet College and immediate past chairman of the MIAA Presidents’ Council.
“Penny brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences that will help ensure that the MIAA remains at the forefront of small college athletics, and will help to position the MIAA and its member institutions for a successful future,” Dr. Corey said.
Allen-Cook brings to the MIAA a strong background in intercollegiate athletics as a coach, administrator and conference official. From 2008 to 2012, she served as assistant commissioner of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), an NCAA Division II conference with most of its member colleges in the state of Michigan.
“I am honored and thrilled to have been chosen by the MIAA Presidents’ Council as the next commissioner for the highly prestigious and oldest collegiate conference in the country. The MIAA is my former home and steeped in a rich tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” Allen-Cook said. “I have a passion for what Division III stands for and the positive multi-dimensional experience offered the student-athlete at this level. Retiring Commissioner Dave Neilson has positioned the MIAA well, both regionally and nationally, to move into the next 125 years.”
While with the GLIAC, Allen-Cook supervised 11 of the conference’s 21 sports, directed its Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), instituted a bi-yearly educational program for student-athletes in leadership and professional skills to be used after college and instituted conference-wide compliance programs. She also assisted in development and oversight of the conference budget, secured sponsorships for awards and tournaments and directed the largest collegiate volleyball tournament in the country. She also started up a conference-wide breast cancer awareness program known as “Pink Wave” that raised more than $80,000 over three years.
Allen-Cook spent nearly a decade in the MIAA as a coach and administrator at Alma College. From 1996 to 2002, she served as Alma’s head volleyball coach, posting a career record of 132-54 and leading the Scots to the first of what would be four straight MIAA championships during the 2001 season. She also served as women’s director of athletics, assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator during a period from 1997 to 2002, serving as Alma’s NCAA compliance officer.
For the past two years, Allen-Cook has been a consultant to college athletic departments in helping them develop compliance manuals and educational compliance programs. She has also been involved in the evaluation of institutions seeking to become NCAA Division II members and has served as tournament director for several NCAA regional competitions.
Prior to joining the GLIAC, Allen-Cook served as compliance and academic services coordinator for the athletic department at Saginaw Valley State University from 2005-08. She also served as head volleyball coach at Grand Rapids Community College (1994-96) and as varsity volleyball coach in the high school ranks at Pewamo-Westphalia, Jenison and Freeland. Her overall career coaching record was 494-284-38, for a winning percentage of .605.
Allen-Cook is a 1988 graduate of Michigan State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education and exercise science with an emphasis in exercise physiology. She also earned a teaching certificate in physical education and biology from MSU in 1989.
Allen-Cook currently resides in Freeland with her family.