Penn State

Associate AD Jeff Nelson set to retire after 25 years with Penn State

Joe Paterno speaks as Jeff Nelson listens during Joe’s weekly press conference, September 13, 2011. CDT/Nabil K. Mark
Joe Paterno speaks as Jeff Nelson listens during Joe’s weekly press conference, September 13, 2011. CDT/Nabil K. Mark

Longtime Penn State athletics employee Jeff Nelson — who served as Penn State football’s primary communications director for more than two decades — announced Monday afternoon that he intends to retire at the end of next month.

“It’s been an incredible 25 years with Penn State Athletics and I’m excited about what the next chapter will bring for myself and our family,” Nelson said in a written statement. “From the very beginning, I’ve felt that everyone at Penn State tries to do things the right way — with integrity, passionate dedication and attention to detail, to provide the greatest experience possible for our students.”

Nelson arrived in Happy Valley in 1993 and has been a staple of the athletics staff since then. He was the football team’s primary communications contact for 22 years and was elevated to associate athletic director for strategic communications in 2015.

He earned several national awards for his work on the College Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Committee, including the 2017 Lester Jordan Award and the Bill Esposito Backbone Award in 2012.

“Jeff Nelson has been synonymous with Penn State and Penn State Athletics for (nearly) 26 years,” Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said in a news release. “For me, Jeff has been a fountain of knowledge and has provided guidance and wisdom in the ‘Penn State Way.’ We will dearly miss the Nelsons and wish them nothing but joy, happiness and success in their next adventure.”

Nelson graduated from Indiana in 1983, worked for the Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune for a year as a sports reporter and then found his calling in sports information. He worked at Holy Cross for eight years before moving on to Penn State in 1993 — and he’s been in Happy Valley ever since.

His final day will be July 31.

“There are far too many people to thank for the many blessings and opportunities I’ve had during my nearly 34 years in intercollegiate athletics,” Nelson said. “I will forever be appreciative of Kit Klingelhoffer and Susan Williams as a student assistant at IU, Gregg Burke for giving me the chance to join the athletic communications profession at Holy Cross and Budd Thalman for the opportunity to come to the very special place that is Penn State.”