- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | An executive at Black Entertainment Television has been chosen the chief executive officer for the two nonprofits that help raise money for the U.S. Naval Academy.

The boards of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association and the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation selected Byron Marchant to be the new president and CEO on Thursday. The two nonprofits operate under one CEO.

“We could not have asked for a better leader to join our team during this exciting and challenging time,” said retired Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost, who chairs the alumni association, and retired Adm. Charles Larson, who chairs the foundation, in a joint statement.

Mr. Marchant, who graduated from the academy in 1978, has been working as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for BET in the District.

Mr. Marchant also has served as senior vice president and general counsel for Annapolis-based Telecommunications Systems Inc., and senior legal adviser to Federal Communications Commissioner Andrew Barrett.

“I look forward to serving our alumni and engaging them to create enthusiasm among our diverse constituencies in support of the Naval Academy and Brigade of Midshipmen,” Mr. Marchant said.

He succeeds George Watt, who stepped down this year after eight years as CEO.

The service academy’s foundation has become a strong fundraising force for the academy in a short time. Adm. Larson established the foundation shortly after he returned to the academy for a second tour as superintendent in 1994.

Extra money raised through private donors - alumni and corporations - has resulted in faculty chairs, distinguished military professorships, admission outreach programs and academic and writing centers for the brigade of about 4,400 midshipmen.

The money also has helped pay for renovations at the football stadium and a sailing center, and to help build a Jewish worship center.

Before the foundation, the academy relied almost entirely on federal funding. More money has been raised for the academy in the past several years through the nonprofits than all the money raised for the service academy from its founding in 1845 until 1996.

But the association hasn’t been without recent legal headaches.

Two alumni filed a lawsuit last year against the association, saying the board went against its bylaws while conducting an election for chairman.

The lawsuit was dismissed from Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. However, it’s being appealed to Maryland’s highest court, which has agreed to hear the case in March.

“It’s a distraction,” association spokesman Skid Heyworth said. “We’re dealing with it.”

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