The year 2018 has been a barrier-breaking and historically progressive one for women hired into athletic director, commissioner, or other executive leadership positions in collegiate athletics.
In 2015 there were just 26 women of such distinction.
At the 345 universities that sponsor sports on the NCAA Division I level, only 26 women are athletic directors: http://t.co/3wmQpjUrWy
By May of 2018, 29 women had been named to the top seat across all divisions of athletics —17 of whom were first-time hires. That means that in the first three and a half months of 2018, we already had over 78 % of the 37 total women that were promoted in 2017.
Jennifer Williams has added to this growing number as Alabama State University President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. removed the interim tag from her title and officially announced her as the new Director of Athletics at Alabama State University Wednesday afternoon.
Alabama State: Interim tag removed, Jennifer Lynne Williams named Director of Athletics https://t.co/KFcRUzjILx #ncaaw
“I would like to thank the search committee for their hard work in vetting the candidates for the position and making the recommendation for the University’s Athletic Director,” said Alabama State University President Quinton T. Ross Jr. “We are proud to be able to remove the interim title that Mrs. Williams has carried for the past year. During that time, she has done an outstanding job and has been highly successful in leading the Athletics Department. We are excited to be able to continue the momentum that will move the department, as well as Alabama State University, forward.”
A four-year letterman and two-year captain in women’s basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Williams began her professional career as a reporter for the Tar Heel Sports Network and a production assistant for Fox Sports South.
The Detroit, Mich. native gained extensive experience in executive leadership roles at North Carolina Central, Depaul University and North Carolina A&T before taking over the helm of Alabama State’s department in October 2017.
Uploaded by Candice Lenise Howard on 2016-06-24.
Under Williams’ guidance, Alabama State’s athletic department continued its streak of Division -1, FCS excellence, celebrating its fifth consecutive Commissioner’s Cup Award, while also enjoying the eight conference championships won during the 2017-18 academic year.
The Hornets additionally claimed four regular-season championships, with three other teams finishing as conference runner-up in their respective sport. Alabama State had 37 student-athletes recognized as all-conference, won multiple coaches of the year awards and had a Google Cloud Academic All-America selection this season.
Williams came in, met the challenge head-on and earned herself a top gig.
Jennifer Lynne Williams named interim athletics director at Alabama State https://t.co/YjkaSPX3CC
In addition to the athletic success, every Alabama State team met the academic standards needed to be eligible for postseason play according to the NCAA APR results. Two of the teams scored a perfect 1000 – women’s cross country and bowling – and three others scored 990 or better.
“I would like to thank President Ross, our Chief of Staff Dr. Kevin Rolle, the search committee, and our Board of Trustees for entrusting me with the awesome responsibility of leading our department,” Williams said. “I would also like to recognize the wonderful student-athletes, coaches, and staff who I am so fortunate to work with on a daily basis…I look forward to building upon the winning tradition!”
Williams has brought a new vibe and an elite vision for the future of the Alabama State student-athletics program. The entire ASU family has embraced her motto of ‘committing to connect,’ with many serving actively in the community.
Williams also serves on the President’s executive leadership team and manages the day-to-day operations of Hornet Athletics. Williams has direct oversight of the Hornet Club, the official fundraising arm of ASU Athletics, and serves as the sports administrator for football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball.
Alabama State’s Jennifer Williams named 2018 FCS Administrator of the Year #AlabamaState https://t.co/B5U7mJynlr
Earlier this summer, Williams was recognized for her work as she was named the FCS Administrator of the Year by Women Leaders in College Sports, and she will be officially recognized for that honor next week in Atlanta. She was named to the NAADD Executive Board earlier this year and serves on the Division I Council. Williams also serves on the Football Oversight Committee.
.Not only are women overseeing the day-to-day business in formidable, male-driven athletic departments across the country, including power five athletic departments — Virginia’s Carla Williams became the first Black female Athletic Director in the Power Five conferences in 2017 — but women like Miami’s Jennifer Strawley and Virginia Tech’s Desiree Reed-Francois and Williams are the primary administrators for football on their campus.
Congratulations to Jennifer Williams. Another example of how barriers are being broken, society is changing and women are getting leadership positions and excelling in areas that were once oppressively reserved for men.