Perry Crosswhite, or ‘Rocky’ as a generation of basketball fans came to know him, made his mark on Australian basketball as a player before continuing to grow the sport in several administrative roles.
Born in the USA, Crosswhite became a naturalized Australian in 1971 following his marriage to Janice Steel and it did not take long before he represented his country.
Selected to play for the Australian Boomers at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Crosswhite averaged 13.1 points and 6.7 rebounds as the country’s second most prolific scorer.
A natural leader, Crosswhite went on to captain the Boomers at the following two Olympic Games.
He averaged 10.6 points, six rebounds and 4.4 assists in Montreal in 1976 while taking the team to the Quarter-Finals in both the Montreal and Moscow Olympics in 1980.
He also led the national team at the 1974 World Championships in Puerto Rico and would go on to tally 300 games for the Boomers during a decade in which the standard of Australian basketball started to gain significant respect around the world.
Domestically, Crosswhite was a key member of four Victorian national title winning teams and in 1971, he was awarded the Alan Hughes Medal as the most outstanding Victorian player at the Australian Championships.
Playing for the Melbourne Tigers in the Victorian Basketball Association, Crosswhite competed under the tutelage of Lindsay Gaze and led them into memorable encounters against clubs such as St. Kilda, Coburg and West Adelaide at the Australian Club Championships.
At the inaugural 1973 National Invitational Club Championships in Melbourne, he top scored in the final with 31 points while leading the Tigers to victory.
During his time as a player, Crosswhite influenced the development of the sport at the highest level from part time management in the early 1970’s to the formation of a national league with paid players in the 1980’s.
Upon his retirement, Crosswhite made the transition into sporting administration where he was a pioneer in the establishment of professional sports administration in Australia.
Holding senior Recreation/Sport Officer positions within the Victorian State Government, he helped to design, implement, and administer programs, including the Life. Be in It and other Sport for All programs which expanded opportunities for the participation of Australians in sport.
Crosswhite was also a part of the growth in the Australian Government expansion into sports administration, holding senior positions within the Department of Tourism and Recreation, the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Sports Commission, and the Australian Sports Foundation.
In 1991, as the first Executive Director of the Australian Olympic Committee, Crosswhite had administrative responsibility for the participation of the 1992 Australian Olympic team in Barcelona as well as the 1994 Lillehammer Australian Winter Olympic teams.
During the time he was at the AOC, the Sydney 2000 Olympics were awarded to Australia.
Using this experience, as CEO of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association from 1996-2015, he devised and implemented the domestic bid process for the Australian candidature for the 2006 Commonwealth Games which was held in Melbourne, and for the 2018 Commonwealth Games which will be held on the Gold Coast.
Crosswhite was also the Australian Team Manager for the 1998 Kuala Lumpur, 2002 Manchester, 2006 Melbourne, and 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
One of Crosswhite’s major achievements as an administrator was to have basketball included as a sport at both the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
In addition to his induction into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, Crosswhite has previously been inducted as an inaugural member in the Basketball Victorian “Wall of Fame” in 1990, recognised as the Australian Sports Administrator of the Year in 1998, inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2000 as an administrator and was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2007.
The 2016 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame Class:
Perry Crosswhite AM
Liesl Tesch AM
Patrick Hunt AM
Ron Harvey CVO AM
Ken Watson BEM