Athletics' Jack of All Trades

Mel Franks, Cal State Fullerton associate athletic director of media relations, has more than a quarter century filled with memories thanks to his hard work and commitment.

It's often said that hard work and commitment pays off.

Mel Franks, Cal State Fullerton associate athletic director of media relations, has more than a quarter century filled with memories thanks to his hard work and commitment.

For 26 years, Franks has worked tirelessly toward promoting and publicizing CSUF athletes, coaches and teams.

"It's fun being around athletes and coaches," Franks said. "Everything is so negative in the sports world nowadays, so it is refreshing to just root for the home team no matter what's their record."

Franks is the second longest tenured sports information director in California Division I schools, according to the CSUF Web site.

After graduating from Arizona State in 1970, Franks worked as a sportswriter for the now defunct Daily News Tribune in Fullerton. Franks also spent six years in the public relations department of the California Angels before coming to CSUF.

"I'm proud to say that I've built a good rapport with the local media throughout the years," Franks said.

Here at CSUF, Franks is in charge of putting events together. He has to take care of every aspect of sporting events like the baseball regional and super regional tournaments.

Since 1999, CSUF has hosted a total of six college baseball regional and five super regional tournaments. Franks said the regional tournaments are hard to put together because the NCAA gives the school that will be hosting the tournament a short amount of time to get ready.

"First, the school must qualify for the tournament. Then, the school must be chosen by the NCAA to host the tournament," Franks said. "Everything has to be done at the last minute."

For every tournament, Franks has to manage things like where to locate the press row, who will be in the press box, what color uniforms the teams are going to wear, what hotels the visiting teams and umpires will sleep in, and he has to make sure all the teams know the game and practice schedules.

Franks said that the 1983 televised basketball game versus UNLV was the biggest event he planned at CSUF.

"I had to take care of the press boxes, press row and everything that went into the game. We even had television here so I had to arrange that as well," Franks said. "CSUF doesn't get these opportunities often, so it was important that we put on a good show," Franks said.

Although Franks' job can be overwhelming, he said he wouldn't do anything else.

"Mel is the best at what he does in the business," said Steve DiTolla, CSUF associate athletics director, who has worked with Franks for 21 years.

DiTolla described Franks as knowledgeable, organized, personal and compassionate.

"He's one of the hardest working guys you'll meet," DiTolla said.

Franks' long tenure has helped him gain respect from students, athletes and coaches, said Cliff Hatter, CSUF assistant equipment manager, who has known Franks since he began working at CSUF.

"I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like him or respect what he does," Hatter said.

Hatter explained how difficult it was for him, Franks and the football team during the 1984 football season.

"We never knew what to expect, one to the other," Hatter said.

At that time, CSUF was under- staffed and under-budgeted compared to other Division I schools like Texas.

It was up to a small group of people to make sure everything ran smoothly, Hatter said.

Franks said that he considers 1984 as one of his most cherished years because the baseball and football programs overachieved.

The CSUF baseball team won its second National Championship by beating Texas and the CSUF football team became nationally ranked with an 11-1 record.

About 15 players from that team went on to play professionally.

"It was amazing that the baseball team beat Texas that year because Texas had a bigger budget than ours," Franks said. "It is rewarding to be associated with a program that overachieves."