PULLMAN, Wash. — Rod Commons, a 1961 graduate of Siletz High school and 1966 graduate of Oregon State University, is among six Washington State University individuals who will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 6, 2019 in Spokane.
Commons’ 43-year career at Washington State University includes 32 years as assistant athletic director for sports communication. Since retiring in 2008, he has served as a photographer for Cougar athletics and assists as department historian.
Others to be inducted, all of whom earned All-America status during their Cougar career, are quarterback Ryan Leaf, track star and coach Ellannee Richardson, rower Lisa Roman (currently ranked 8th in the world), volleyball setter Stephanie Papke and distance runner Josephat Kapkory.
Among Commons’ accomplishments during his 51-year collegiate career:
1997: President of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America;
2005: President of the College Sports Information Directors of America;
2005: Bill Esposito NIT-CoSIDA Presidential Citation recipient, presented at the NIT finals in New York;
2007: Inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame;
2010: Lifetime Achievement Award by the College Sports Information Directors of America;
2011: Scroll of Honor by the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame.
Commons is the great-grandson of Benton and Lincoln county pioneers Wallis and Louisa Nash (OSU’s Nash Hall) and grew up on the original Nash homestead near Nashville in eastern Lincoln County. His grandfather, Roderic Nash, who operated the Nash ranch until his death in 1965, lettered in football at OSU in 1901-02-03.
While at Siletz High, Commons was a member of the Warrior baseball team and was an active member of the Future Farmers of America. He also was an annual exhibitor at the Lincoln County Fair in Newport, an event his great-grandfather helped develop.
During his undergraduate work at OSU while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a minor in journalism, Commons served three years as a photographer for the school’s student newspaper, The Barometer. He also spent time taking photographs for the Beaver yearbook, the Oregon Stater alumni magazine and for the athletic department. He was a charter member of OSU’s chapter of the national journalism society, known then as Sigma Delta Chi, and as an undergraduate he was involved in OSU’s Army ROTC unit for two years, the Pacific Northwest regimental staff member of Pershing Rifles, and was a member of the Withycombe Club and the National Block and Bridle Club.
After graduation from Oregon State in the spring of 1966, Commons spent the following fall working for the OSU athletic department as a part-time assistant to John Eggers in the sports information office.
In January of 1967, he was named editor of the Newberg (Ore.) Graphic, a position he held for 14 months. While at the paper, he served as vice president of the Newberg Area Chamber of Commerce.
He then returned to his alma mater in April of 1968 as the school’s first full-time assistant sports information director, where he was tutored by Eggers, who holds membership in both the CoSIDA and OSU Athletics halls of fame. During his OSU career, Commons also served as photographer for the athletic department and helped coordinate Beaver Boys State activities each summer on the OSU campus. In addition, he served as assistant coach for Richie’s Market American Legion baseball teams, including the club that won the 1970 State of Oregon American Legion championship.
Following his five-year stint at OSU, Commons was named the sports information director at Brown University, 1973-1976. During his last year at Brown, the Ivy League school hosted a NCAA regional basketball regional, the NCAA Division I men’s swimming championships and the NCAA Div. I men’s lacrosse championship in a four-month span.
Commons and his wife, Linda, who met after both took jobs in OSU Athletics in 1968, have two daughters and seven grandchildren. They recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. His spare time is taken up by photography, grandchildren and family genealogy research
— Washington State University