Luther senior Paul Blackburn selected for NCAA III Student Immersion Program

November 8, 2017

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that Luther College senior Paul Blackburn has been selected for the NCAA III Student Immersion Program.

Each year 40 students, nominated by administrators from their respective institutions across the United States, are selected for the NCAA III Student Immersion Program. This program began in 2015 at the recommendation of the Division III Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, the Division III governance staff and the NCAA Office of Inclusion.

The selected students are fully funded to attend the NCAA Convention held Jan. 17-20, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The students are exposed to Division III, its members and its governance process. In addition to the scheduled Division III programming, grant recipients receive DiSC (an assessment tool) training, and attend welcome and debriefing meetings. The goal is to build a pipeline of talented ethnic minority candidates, with an interest in Division III coaching and/or administration, in an effort to ultimately diversify the division.

“It is a true honor to be accepted in the NCAA Student Immersion Program,” stated Blackburn. “Being able to represent Luther College at the NCAA Convention is an amazing opportunity for me to network and create relationships with people that have the same passion for working in sports as I do. I am excited to have the chance to travel to Indianapolis and learn more about the NCAA. I know that this experience will benefit me in helping me advance my career after Luther.”

Blackburn, a 2014 graduate of Ola High School in McDonough, Georgia, has been assisting Luther’s men’s basketball program the past two years.

“Paul started out as a player for us and has transitioned to an outstanding student assistant coach,” said Mark Franzen, Luther head coach of men’s basketball. “He has responsibilities coaching on the floor every day and is also involved in the recruiting process. This year (2017-18), he will take on the added role of coaching our junior varsity team that will play a 14-game schedule.”

Luther College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the ELCA and is located in Decorah, Iowa. The Norse compete in 10 men’s and nine women’s intercollegiate sports.

An original member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 1922, Luther’s men’s programs have won 166 conference championships. In 1982 the IIAC expanded its championship sponsorship to include women’s sports. During this time span, Luther’s women’s programs have won 79 team titles. Combined, Luther is the first school in the Iowa Conference to capture 245 league titles.

More information on Luther College athletics can be found on the athletic website at