Longtime San Jose State sports information director Lawrence Fan getting Hall of Fame recognition

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News June 22, 2012.

By Jon Wilner

The list of San Jose State Spartans in national halls of fame, which includes Bill Walsh, Peter Ueberroth and Juli Inkster, is about to add another name.

Longtime staff member Lawrence Fan will be inducted into the College Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame on Monday in St. Louis, along with six colleagues from a slice of college athletics that employs thousands of people across the nation.

Fan also will receive the Arch Ward Award — the highest honor in his profession — for outstanding contributions to his field.

“It’s a big deal for my parents,” said Fan, 57, the first Chinese-American to be inducted into the sports information Hall of Fame. “It’s also big for San Jose State. It gives the school another level of repute.”

Officially, Fan has been the liaison between SJSU sports and the media for 32 years, arranging interviews and providing an endless array of information about Spartans sports.

“No one in our industry is more respected than Lawrence,” said Jim Young, Stanford’s senior assistant athletic director for communications, who has known Fan for decades.

“A lot of people in our profession are known for their glossy publications and the voluminous notes and the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook. But Lawrence has always been about connecting with people, and he does that better than anyone.”

Unofficially, Fan fills a far more significant role in his cramped office in the athletic department. To a greater

extent than any athlete or coach to pass through SJSU in the past quarter century, Fan is Spartans athletics.

“If San Jose State had a pyramid of success, Lawrence would be one of the major building blocks,” said former basketball coach Stan Morrison, who led SJSU to the 1996 NCAA tournament and had dinner with Fan on Sundays at Grande Pizzeria near campus.

Fan has seen every Spartans football game since 1980 and possesses encyclopedic knowledge of SJSU athletics. He has a story for any occasion and knows everyone from John Elway to Bill Hancock, the executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, who called Fan “the consummate professional.”

“His dry wit and attention to detail have earned many friends for San Jose State through the years,” Hancock added.

Fan is tireless, methodical and a tad eccentric. He loves “Leave It to Beaver” and roller derby and drove a 1978 Ford Granada until it had 412,000 miles. He replaced it with a 2000 Oldsmobile, which has 234,000 miles (and counting).

Fan is well known in college basketball circles for baking a cake for SJSU officials and media members before home games. Dubbed “Fan cake,” its ingredients have never been disclosed.

In order to manage his massive workload — SJSU’s media relations department has fewer resources than Stanford and Cal — Fan has been known to sleep in his office.

Or his car.

“That’s a bit of an exaggeration,” he said. “I haven’t done that more than five times.”

The oldest of three children, Fan grew up in San Francisco with a love for the Giants and 49ers. He attended Y.A. Tittle’s final game at Kezar Stadium and was in the crowd for the infamous wrong-way run by the Minnesota Vikings’ Jim Marshall.

After graduating from Lowell High, Fan enrolled at Cal with plans to be a math major. But he was drawn to athletic administration and eventually became the sports information director at La Salle University, in Philadelphia, in 1978.

Two years later, Fan accepted the same post at San Jose State, crammed his belongings into the Ford Granada, and made the cross-country trek.

In the three decades since, Fan has produced tens of thousands of pages of media guides, news releases, game notes and statistics. He also has been a friend and adviser to many Spartans athletes and coaches.

“If you have a bad game, he always has a good word to lift you up,” said third-year football coach Mike MacIntyre, who videotaped a testimonial about Fan that will be shown at the Hall of Fame induction.

Along the way, Fan has established relationships with media members in the Bay Area and throughout the country.

“He’s a nice guy even when he’s not selling you something,” said KRON sports anchor and KNBR host Gary Radnich, who refers to Fan as “The Great Lawrence Fan” on his radio show.

“He called my 90-year-old mother just to say he enjoyed being on my show.”

For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner’s College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.