ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Noel Olson, longtime commissioner of the now-defunct NCAA Division II North Central Conference, passed away Friday at the age of 87 in his St. Cloud home.

Olson, a 1954 graduate of Fergus Falls (Minn.) High School, was instrumental in developing the North Central Conference into one of the elite Division II leagues. Olson was the NCC commissioner from 1984 until 1977 in a league that included North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota.

Olson played basketball, football and tennis at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. He played and coached basketball and baseball in the Air Force for three years before coaching at the high school level in Fertile, Minn., and Virginia, Minn.

Olson began his collegiate coaching career at Minnesota-Morris in 1963 before he began coaching in 1969 at St. Cloud State — where he was twice honored as conference coach of the year. He became St. Cloud State’s athletic director in 1976.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 16, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Cloud. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 15, at Benson Funeral Home in St. Cloud and one hour prior to the Thursday church service.