PRESS RELEASE 04.05.2004


USA Volleyball saddened by loss of former President

Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 04, 2004 - William Walter Baird, a long-time member of the United States Volleyball Association and president of the organization from 1988-92, passed away on Friday, April 30 after a long illness.

Baird has served the sport of volleyball in many ways and completed his tenure as President of the United States Volleyball Association in October 1992. His initial volleyball exposure is documented back to 1943 as a young sailor with the U.S. Navy at Sampson Naval Office.

As Baird worked for the game at local level, he became an active leader at national level. In 1963 he was named the National Commissioner of Regions, a post he held through the 1975-76 season. In 1971 he was elected USVBA Secretary. Baird also served as a Division Vice President from 1980-1984 and as Executive Vice President from 1984 through 1988.

In 1972, following the footsteps of Leonard Gibson and Harry Wilson, he was initiated into the world of international volleyball. He was a United States representative to the FIVB Congress in Munich, Germany, in 1972, a position he enjoyed through the 1992 Games in Barcelona Spain.

Baird was elected to the FIVB Rules of the Game Commission from 1976-1980; and to the FIVB Board of Administration from 1980-1984. Additionally he represented USA Volleyball at several World Championships, NORCECA and Pan American Games, and most recently as the United States representative at the 1993 World University Games in Buffalo, N.Y.

He served as a member of the Jury for the Olympic Games in Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984) and at World and Junior World Championships. He was President of the Jury for the 1992 Pan American Games and the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Baird was instrumental in the development of the current English version of the FIVB Rules of the Game, the three-ball system, adoption of the antennae and the touch of the block rule that permitted three additional contacts of the ball after a block.

He also served as an instructor in the Far East in Japan, Okinawa and Korea. In 1974-75, he served as the director of the National Teams unit. That was the year that the concept of year around training was adopted, a first in the United States for any sport.

Over the years, Baird was the recipient of many USVBA honors, including the Leader in Volleyball Award (1965), the Dr. Neville A. "Doc" Booth Commissioner's Award (1976), the Referee Emeritus Award (1978), the Harry E. Wilson Distinguished Service Award (1994) and USA Volleyball's highest honor, the Dr. Harold T. Friermood "Frier" Award (1984).

A memorial service was held on Sunday, May 2, in New York.