At the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Winter Meeting Jan. 3, Bob Gardner, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 2010, notified the Board of Directors of his plans to retire, effective Aug. 1, CHSAANOW reported.

During his eight years as executive director, Gardner worked to promote the value of high school sports and extracurricular programming and was a staunch supporter of expanded participation opportunities for boys and girls nationwide and for students with disabilities, leading high school sports participation to rise by nearly 400,000.

Gardner also encouraged a tighter focus on risk minimization and concussion awareness, guided the expansion of the NFHS Learning Center, and is credited with starting the NFHS Network — providing widespread digital coverage of high school sports — resulting in an increase in revenue of $4 million.

Over the course of a 48-year career in secondary education, Gardner has worked as a teacher, a coach, an athletic director, a principal and a superintendent. He has been a part of the NFHS staff in Indianapolis for a total of 18 years, first as chief operating officer, then as executive director, and was the chairman of the NFHS Rules Review Committee.

As assistant commissioner, then commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, Gardner championed the change that allowed the participation of all schools in the IHSAA football playoffs, led the transition to multiple classes in team sports, and negotiated the IHSAA’s largest corporate sponsorship agreement to date.

Gardner has served on the Board of Directors for USA Football, USA Basketball and the Indiana Sports Corporation, and is a member of the Indiana High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Applications to fill the position vacated by Gardner have a deadline of March 1, after which the NFHS Board of Directors will interview finalists in Indianapolis April 18-18. The new executive director is expected to take up the post Aug. 1.

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.