Smashing Glass Ceilings| Nina King Is First Black Queen To Head Duke’s Athletic Department

King becomes the sixth female athletics director among Power Five conferences schools. There are three in the ACC in King, Carla Williams and Pittsburgh’s Heather Lyke.

By Devon POV Mason| Staff Reporter 

Replacing long-tenured Athletic Director Kevin White was something Duke University knew it would have to do one day, and that day has finally come.

The school looked no further than the person who’s worked closest with White.

Nina King is a rising star in the industry who’s worked for White at Notre Dame and Duke since 2005, will be named Duke’s vice president and director of athletics.

The 42-year old King will be the first woman and person of color to head Duke’s athletic department. She’s been a member of the Blue Devils staff since 2008, most recently as senior deputy athletics director overseeing football and basketball among other duties.



In the triangle, NC State was the first school to hire a woman as athletics director when Debbie Yow held that job from 2010 until her retirement in 2019. In 2017, Virginia’s Carla Williams became the first Black woman hired as an athletics director at a Power Five conference school, and Vanderbilt hired Candice Storey Lee to lead its athletics department last year.

King becomes the sixth female athletics director among Power Five conferences schools. There are three in the ACC in King, Williams and Pittsburgh’s Heather Lyke.

READ MORE: The Climb: University of Virginia Athletic Director Carla Williams

“Thrilled for this incredible new opportunity!” King posted on Twitter. “Love my Duke family and so excited to continue our tradition of excellence.”

Like Williams and Lee before her, King’s first job as an athletics director will come at the Power Five level.

“This is truly a magical moment within the like of Duke’s athletics,” White said in a statement. “Nina King is indeed the absolute perfect choice to lead this storied program. Nina, unequivocally, possesses all the intellectual and relationship skills, coupled with inordinate subject knowledge, which in my humble view, represents a very serious leadership “upgrade!” To be sure, I could not possibly be more excited for both Duke University and the amazing King family.”

Currently, the ACC’s longest-tenured AD, White,70, announced his retirement last January, saying he would step aside in August. He’s been Duke’s athletic director since 2008 when he replaced Joe Alleva.

According to sources familiar with the search, King emerged the choice from a field that included, at one point or another, Villanova athletics director Mark Jackson, Rice athletics director Joe Karlgaard, and Florida executive associate athletics director Lynda Tealer, among others. The Duke Board of Directors believes King embodies what the group wanted in the hire.



“We set out on a national search to find the best possible leader, someone with experience, intellect and vision to meet the challenges of the future and a sharp understanding of our commitment to excellence in academics and competition,” Richard Wagoner former Duke Board of Trustee chair and General Motors CEO said in a statement.

“The committee was enthusiastic about Nina’s candidacy, and I could not be more excited to see her at the helm of Duke athletics.”

Back to top