Amateur Athletic Union
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Amateur Athletic Union
Amateur Athletic Union
AAU Logo.jpg
Abbreviation AAU
Motto "Sports for All, Forever."
Formation January 21, 1888; 130 years ago (1888-01-21)
Founder James E. Sullivan
Founded at New York Athletic Club
Type Amateur Sports Organization
Headquarters Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.
700,000 athletes and coaches nationwide
Dr. Roger J. Goudy

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is an amateur sports organization based in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the promotion and development of amateur sports and physical fitness programs. It has more than 700,000 members nationwide, including more than 100,000 volunteers.

The AAU was founded on January 21, 1888, by James E. Sullivan with the goal of creating common standards in amateur sport.[1] Since then, most national championships for youth athletes in the United States have taken place under AAU leadership. From its founding as a publicly supported organization, the AAU has represented US sports within the various international sports federations. It has grown over the years to become one of the leading and most influential associations.

The AAU formerly worked closely with the United States Olympic Committee to prepare U.S. athletes for the Olympic Games. As part of this, the AAU Junior Olympic Games were introduced in 1949. Young people 8 to 16 years of age, or older in certain sports, can participate in these games. Many future World and Olympic champions have appeared in these events, which are still held every year.

In the 1970s, the AAU received growing criticism. Many claimed that its regulatory framework was outdated. Women were banned from participating in certain competitions and some runners were locked out. There were also problems with sporting goods that did not meet the standards of the AAU. During this time, the Olympic Sports Act of 1978 organized the United States Olympic Committee and saw the re-establishment of independent associations for the Olympic sports, referred to as national governing bodies.

As a result, the AAU lost its influence and importance in international sports, and focused on the support and promotion of predominantly youthful athletes, as well as on the organization of national sports events.


The AAU was founded in 1888 by William Buckingham Curtis to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sport.[1] During its early years the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the United States in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.

After the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 broke up the AAU's responsibility as the national Olympic sports governing body, the AAU focused on providing sports programs for all participants of all ages beginning at the local and regional levels. The philosophy of the AAU is "Sports for All, Forever." The AAU is divided into 56 distinct district associations, which annually sanction 34 sports programs, 250 national championships, and over 30,000 age division events. The AAU events have over 500,000 participants and over 50,000 volunteers.


The Amateur Sports Act of 1978 was precipitated by grumblings of the inefficiency of the AAU to manage the multitude of sports at the Olympic level. USA Gymnastics was formed initially as a feeder program in 1963 as a response to perceived poor performance by the American performers in the Olympics and at World Championships. The USWF was formed in 1968 as an effort to take Wrestling as an independent governing body. Their position was supported when FILA the world governing body refused to accept membership of "umbrella" sports organizations like the AAU.

After years of grumbling by athletes, the International Track Association was formed immediately after the 1972 Olympics to provide Track and Field athletes an opportunity to make money from their sporting efforts. Participants in the professional league were "banned for life" from the Olympics and their record breaking performances were never accepted.


In the early 1970s, The AAU became the subject of criticism, notably by outspoken track star Steve Prefontaine, over the living conditions for amateur athletes under the AAU, as well as arbitrary rules.[2] Congress adopted the Amateur Sports Act of 1978 in response to such criticisms, effectively removing the organization from any governance role. The AAU now continues as a voluntary organization largely promoting youth sports.

In 2008, The AAU also found itself under scrutiny over privacy of information of athletes. A local news station near the AAU Headquarters found boxes of personal information thrown out in dumpsters, raising questions about the organization's handling of private data.[3]

In 2015, Kobe Bryant strongly criticized the AAU, describing it as "Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It's stupid. It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don't know how to post. They don't know the fundamentals of the game. It's stupid."[4] Kobe, who moved to Italy at age 6 because of his father playing basketball there, stated that the AAU has been "treating [amateur basketball players] like cash cows for everyone to profit off of".[4]Steve Kerr has also spoken out against the AAU as well, stating that the AAU's structure devalues winning, with many teams playing about as many as four times a day and some players changing teams as early as from one morning to an afternoon the same day. Kerr also states that "The process of growing as a team basketball player -- learning how to become part of a whole, how to fit into something bigger than oneself -- becomes completely lost within the AAU fabric."[5]

In the wake of sexual scandals that hit two U.S. universities, Penn State and Syracuse, involving acts of sexual abuse with children, charges have also reached the AAU in Memphis, Tennessee, through the alleged misconduct of then President Robert W. "Bobby" Dodd.[6]

Women barred

Since at least 1914 the Amateur Athletic Union barred women athletes from competing in events that it sponsored.[7] In 1914 they changed their rules and allowed women to compete in a limited number of swimming events.[8] Just two years later in 1916, they AAU was looking to discontinue their experiment in allowing women at swimming events.[9]

In 1922 the Metropolitan AAU in New York City approved a larger program of sanctioned events for women but still barred them from running events over one-half mile because they were considered too strenuous.[10] The reason given for barring women was that if a woman was allowed to run more than a half-mile they would put their reproductive health at risk.[2][11] But by 1923 the AAU allowed women to compete in most sports, including basketball.[12] The AAU held women's basketball tournaments from 1926 through 1970.[13]

In 1961 the Amateur Athletic Union still prohibited women from competing in road running events and even if organizers broke the rule and allowed a woman to participate, her results would not be counted in the official race results.[11] In 1970 the first New York City Marathon ignored the AAU rules and allowed women in the event even if it meant that their scores would not be official. For the second New York City Marathon in 1971 the AAU allowed women to participate if they started the race 10 minutes before, or 10 minutes after the men, or if they ran a separate but equal course.[2] By 1974 women were becoming more vocal about their restrictions.[14] The Amateur Sports Act of 1978 removed the AAU from setting rules.


Programs offered by the AAU include: AAU Sports Program, AAU Junior Olympic Games, AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award and the AAU Complete Athlete Program. In addition, the President's Challenge program is administered on behalf of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The AAU has 33 national committees to organize its activities in particular sports.[15]

In 1994, the AAU joined forces with the Walt Disney World Resort, signing a 30-year agreement. As part of that agreement, many of AAU's national championships in many sports are played at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista.[16] In 1996, the AAU relocated its national headquarters to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, adjacent to Walt Disney World. More than 40 AAU national events are conducted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The ESPN Wide World of Sports features a double-deck 7,500--seat baseball stadium and baseball[verification needed] quadraplex, a fieldhouse that accommodates up to six hardwood courts, a softball quadraplex, two youth baseball fields, a track and field complex, and four multi-purpose performance fields sized for soccer tournaments.

AAU operates under a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption letter granted by the federal government in 1996.

Sports offered

The Amateur Athletic Union offers participants sports teams in their local community that they can join and compete with other athletes their own age. There are teams in most sports ranging from 9U to 18U, allowing children to play for championships in sports against other children similar in age and athletic development.

The AAU offers sports teams in:

United Hockey Union

The United Hockey Union (UHU) is a group of junior ice hockey leagues and the NCHA college club league based in North America. The UHU is overseen and insured by the Amateur Athletic Union and was founded in 2012. Neither body is recognized by USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, or the International Ice Hockey Federation.

AAU Hockey sponsors national tournaments[17] for minor hockey levels. A North American Championship for Squirt/Atom and PeeWee levels as well as Midget and Bantam[18] levels is set for debut in 2015 in cooperation with the Canadian Independent Hockey Federation (CIHF).


The Amateur Athletic Union is separated into 55 districts.
2. New England (New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont)[19]
3. Adirondack (That portion of New York State east and north of Broome, Cortland, Dutchess, Onondaga, Orange, Oswego and Sullivan Counties)[20]
4. Niagara (State of New York west of and including Broome, Cortland, Onondaga and Oswego Counties) [21]
5. Connecticut (State of Connecticut) [22]
6. New York Metropolitan (New York, south of and including Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties; also the Canal Zone) [23]
7. New Jersey (New Jersey north of and including Hudson, Mercer and Monmouth Counties) [24]
8. Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, south of Mercer and Monmouth County; all of the State of Delaware and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, east of and including Bedford, Centre, Clinton and Potter Counties) [25]
9. Maryland (State of Maryland except the counties of Montgomery and Prince Georges) [26]
10. Potomac Valley (All territory within the District of Columbia, counties of Montgomery and Prince Georges in the State of Maryland, and counties of Arlington and Fairfax and cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in the Commonwealth of Virginia) (formerly District of Columbia) [27]
11. Western Pennsylvania (All counties in Pennsylvania west of Bedford, Centre, Clinton, Huntingdon and Potter Counties and the Counties of Brooke, Hancock, Marshall and Ohio in West Virginia) [28]
12. Virginia (Commonwealth of Virginia except the Counties of Arlington and Fairfax and cities of Alexandria and Falls Church) [29]
13. North Carolina (State of North Carolina) [30]
14. Florida (Florida, except Miami-Dade, Broward, that part of Hendry County West of Route 833 and Palm Beach Counties) [31]
15. Southeastern (The State of Alabama and the State of Tennessee) [32]

16. Indiana (All of State of Indiana excepting Clark, Dearborn and Floyd Counties with the reservation that all wrestling therein be controlled by the Indiana District) [33]

17. Ohio (State of Ohio except the counties of Ashland, Ashtabula, Belmont, Columbiana, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Jefferson, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne); and the Dearborn County in the State of Indiana) [34]

18. Lake Erie (The Counties of Ashland, Ashtabula, Belmont Columbiana, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Erie, Geauga, Huron, Jefferson, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne) (formerly Northeastern Ohio) [35]

19. Michigan (State of Michigan) [36]

20. Wisconsin (State of Wisconsin) [37]

21. Central Illinois (Illinois, except Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties-counties of Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair given to Ozark District, with reservation that all judo therein to be controlled by Central District) [38]

22. Ozark (Missouri east of and including the following counties, Camden, Dallas, Douglas, Knox, Miller, Monroe, Montgomery, Osage, Ozark, Pike, Scotland, Shelby, including the city of St. Louis, and Webster. Counties of Calhoun, Greene, Jersey, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair in Illinois with reservation that all judo therein be controlled by Central Illinois District) [39]

23. Arkansas (State of Arkansas and Bowie County, Texas) [40]

24. Southern (The State of Louisiana and the State of Mississippi) [41]

25. Gulf (That part of the State of Texas bounded on the North and including the counties of Angelina, Houston, Leon, Nacogdoches, Robertson and Shelby; on the East by the State of Louisiana; on the South by the Gulf of Mexico and on the West by and including the counties of Austin, Brazos, Colorado, Fort Bend, Grimes, Matagorda, Robertson, Waller, Washington and Wharton) [42]

26. Southwestern Dallas/Fort Worth area and the rest of the Northeast part of Texas

27. Oklahoma

28. Missouri Valley

29. Nebraska

30. Minnesota

31. Montana

32. Colorado

33. Southern Pacific

34. Utah

35. Inland Empire

36. Pacific Northwest

37. Oregon

38. Pacific

39. Hawaii

40. Iowa

41. Kentucky

42. New Mexico

43. South Texas

44. Pacific Southwest

45. Georgia

46. Central California

47. West Texas

48. Arizona

49. Southern Nevada

50. Florida Gold Coast

51. West Virginia

52. North Dakota

54. South Dakota

55. South Carolina

56. Alaska

58. Wyoming

61. Puerto Rico


The following people served as President of the Amateur Athletic Union.

Name Term Notes and references
Harry McMillan 1888 to 1890
Howard Perry 1891 to 1893
William Curtis 1894
Harry McMillan 1895 to 1897
Bartow Weeks 1898 to 1899
Edward Babb 1900 to 1901
Walter Liginger 1902 to 1903
Joseph Maccabe 1904 to 1905
James Edward Sullivan 1906 to 1908 [43]
Everett Brown 1909 to 1910
Gustavus Town Kirby 1911 to 1912 [44][45]
Alfred John Lill, Jr. 1913 to 1914 [44][46]
George J. Turner 1915 to 1916 He was the treasurer of the South Atlantic Association and then the president of the Amateur Athletic Union from 1915 to 1916.[47]
Charles Dean 1917
Samuel Dallas 1918 to 1919
Robert Weaver 1920
William Prout 1921 to 1923
Murray Hulbert 1924 to 1927
Avery Brundage 1928 to 1933, 1935 He was also the fifth president of the International Olympic Committee serving from 1952 to 1972.
Jeremiah T. Mahoney 1934 and 1936
Samuel Hoyt 1937 to 1938
Lawrence Benedetto 1939 to 1943
Willard Greim 1944 to 1946
James Rhodes 1947 to 1948
Albert Wheltle 1949 to 1950
Douglas Roby 1951 to 1952
Louis Wilke 1953 to 1954
Carl Hansen 1955 to 1956
Kellum Johnson 1957 to 1958
Nick Barack 1959 to 1960
Louis J. Fisher 1961 to 1962
Jay Mahoney 1963
Clifford Black 1964 to 1965
David A. Matlin 1966 to 1967 He was the first Jewish president of the Amateur Athletic Union.[48]
Jesse Pardue 1968 to 1969
John Kelly Jr. 1970 to 1971
David Rivens 1972 to 1973
Joseph Scalzo 1974 to 1975
Joel Farrell 1976 to 1977
Robert Hellmick 1978 to 1979
Josiah Henson 1980 to 1983
Richard Harkins 1984 to 1987
Gussie Crawford 1988 to 1992 She was the first female president of the AAU.
Robert Dodd 1992 to 2011
Louis Stout 2011 to 2012
Henry Forrest 2012 to 2014
Roger Goudy 2014 to Present [49]


  1. ^ a b William Buckingham "Father Bill" Curtis: Founder of the U.S. Olympic Committee, by Lowell M. Seida (1998)
  2. ^ a b c Charles Butler (October 19, 2012). "40 Years Ago, Six Women Changed Racing Forever". Runner's World. Retrieved . Lebow and his fellow organizers had openly courted women when the first New York City Marathon was held in 1970, even going so far as to ignore rules put in place by the Amateur Athletic Union that barred women from marathon racecourses. ... 
  3. ^ "Dumpster Full Of Amateur Athletes' Records Found At Storage Complex". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Markazi, Arash. "Kobe: Europe's players more skillful". ESPN. Retrieved 2015. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Amateur Athletic Union probes abuse charges against ex leader". Reuters. Retrieved 2011. 
  7. ^ "A.A.U. Ban on Women. Female Athletes Barred from Competitions Sanctioned by Union". New York Times. January 18, 1914. Retrieved . As a result of the recent agitation to permit enrollment of women athletes in the ranks of the Amateur Athletic Union a mail vote has been taken on the subject with the result that the Union has decided by an overwhelming vote to refuse registration to women athletes in all sports and competitions controlled by the A.A.U. ... 
  8. ^ "Women Swimmers and A.A.U". New York Times. November 22, 1914. Retrieved . While the unexpected action of the Amateur Athletic Union in permitting women swimmers to register hereafter and to compete at sanctioned meets ... 
  9. ^ "A.A.U. May Discard Women's Swimming. After Two Years' Trial Question Will Come Before Annual Convention". New York Times. October 31, 1916. Retrieved . The question whether the Amateur Athletic Union shall continue to recognize and control women swimmers will be one of the principal issues at the annual convention of that body, to be held in this city on Nov. 20. ... 
  10. ^ "Women's Program Is Ready For Vote. Met. A. A. U. to Pass on Rulings for Athletic Competition at Friday Meeting". New York Times. December 13, 1922. Retrieved . A standard programme for women's athletic competition in the local district will be adopted Friday night at a meeting of the Metropolitan A. A. U.'s Committee on Women's Athletics, to be held in the Park Avenue Hotel. ... 
  11. ^ a b Jeré Longman (October 25, 2011). "A Leading Pioneer". New York Times. Retrieved . In 1961, the Amateur Athletic Union prohibited American women from competing officially in road races. When sympathetic race organizers allowed them entry, their results did not count. ... 
  12. ^ Ikard, Robert W. (2005). Just For Fun: The Story of AAU Women's Basketball. Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press. p. 14. OCLC 645941637. Early diverging from the prevalent philosophy of physical educators, the AAU in 1914 deemed swimming an acceptable competitive sport for women. After World War I, the union endorsed elite female competition in track and field (1922), then all generally recognized sports (1923), including basketball. In doing so, it turned 180 degrees from the attitude expressed by its president, James E. Sullivan, in 1910. Invoking an increasingly dated outlook, Sullivan had said his organization would not "register a female competitor and its registration committee refuses sanction for...a set of games where an event for women is scheduled." 
  13. ^ Ikard 2005, p. 13.
  14. ^ "Women Rebelling In Track. Trackwomen Rebelling Against A.A.U. Policies". New York Times. February 27, 1974. Retrieved . Growing discontent with the policies and practices of the Amateur Athletic Union is causing a rebellion in women's track and field. At a time when the sport has made significant strides in gaining recognition in this country, a series of events last week indicated a deterioration between national officials and individual coaches and athletes. ... 
  15. ^ "AAU Official website". Retrieved 2008. 
  16. ^ "The History of AAU Basketball". Retrieved 2010. 
  17. ^ "Inaugural Mite-Squirt Nationals - good to go" (PDF). 1 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "SRHL to Host AAU North American Championships". Grand River Generals. 24 June 2014. 
  19. ^ "New England District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  20. ^ "Adirondack District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  21. ^ "Niagra District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  22. ^ "Connecticut District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  23. ^ "New York Metropolitan District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  24. ^ "New Jersey District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  25. ^ "Middle Atlantic District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  26. ^ "Maryland District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  27. ^ "Potomac Valley District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  28. ^ "Western Pennsylvania District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  29. ^ "Virginia District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  30. ^ "North Carolina District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  31. ^ "Florida District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  32. ^ "Southeastern District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  33. ^ "Indiana District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  34. ^ "Ohio District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  35. ^ "Lake Erie District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  36. ^ "Michigan District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  37. ^ "Wisconsin District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  38. ^ "Central District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  39. ^ "Ozark District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  40. ^ "Arkansas District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  41. ^ "Southern District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  42. ^ "Gulf District - AAU Sports". 1 September 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  43. ^ "J.E. Sullivan Dies After an Operation. America's. Foremost Leader in Athletics and Recreation Work III Few Days. Did Much to Revive Classic Olympic Games and Was Strong. Factor In Public School Athletics". New York Times. September 17, 1914. Retrieved . 
  44. ^ a b "Lill New President Of Athletic Union. Boston Man Elected as Head of Amateur Body to Succeed Kirby". New York Times. November 18, 1913. Retrieved . Alfred J. Lill, Jr., of Boston was elected President of the Amateur Athletic Union yesterday at the twenty-sixth annual convention of the national governing athletic ... 
  45. ^ "G.T. Kirby Elected President Of A.A.U. Columbia University Man Defeats George W. [sic] Pawling for Athletic Office". New York Times. November 11, 1912. Retrieved . Gustavus Town Kirby of this city was elected President of the Amateur Athletic Union yesterday at the twenty-fourth annual meeting of the delegates of the various sectional associations who assembled at the Waldorf-Astoria from nearly every State in the Union. There was one other contender for this highest honor in the giving of the governing body in track, field, and many other amateur sports, he being George W. Pawling of Philadelphia. ... 
  46. ^ "Amateur Athletic Union". Mind and Body. 1914. Retrieved . At the annual meeting of the Amateur Athletic Union Nov. 16 Alfred J. Lill, Jr., of Boston was unanimously re-elected President for the ensuing year. ... 
  47. ^ "Baltimore Man For A.A.U. Head. George J. Turner Leads for Job of Directing America's Amateur Sports". New York Times. October 17, 1915. Retrieved . 
  48. ^ "Amateur Athletic Union Elects Jew As President for First Time". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. December 28, 1966. Retrieved . 
  49. ^ "AAU Announces New President at 124th National Convention". Retrieved 2014. 

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