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Jacqie McWilliams describes her position as Commissioner for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association as her dream job.
As the first female to serve as Commissioner for the CIAA and first appointed African American female Commissioner representing NCAA Division I, II and III, she has proven herself to be a trailblazer.
“I love to work with an organization that has a significant impact and reach,” she said. “To be a woman of color in a historically Black conference and sport influenced by white men has been a blessing and a dream come true; I’ve found my place.”
McWilliams is no stranger to excellence in the conference she serves in. She was a two-sport athlete at Hampton University and member of the Hampton University 1988 NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship team where she was Freshman player of the year at that time and Player of the year for CIAA Volleyball in 1990.
She started her career in coaching, compliance and administration at Virginia Union University with career growth opportunities at the CIAA, Norfolk State University and Morgan State University prior to the NCAA.
McWilliams is proud the CIAA balanced its budget for the first time in history, reaching her goal of $1 million. She also was blown away by 2021’s Virtual Vibe seven-day tournament in Baltimore, an online event, in which there were 9,000 registered.
Yet what McWilliams said is most exciting is how inclusivity and diversity has taken center stage.
“We’ve had a DE&I panel annually, inviting executives, leadership, corporate partners and students,” she said. “The conversations centered around what it means when the majority of our students are Black and Brown. We know it’s still important to have these initiatives and show what DE&I looks like for others, such as those with disabilities and international students.”
What excites McWilliams most is the many facets of her job and working with a team of young and seasoned professionals.
“When we sing the National Anthem and Black National Anthem, I have such pride for our conference,” she says.
She is optimistic that women will continue to make their mark in this segment of the sports industry. She pointed out that, for the first time, all women’s collegiate basketball games were televised on ESPN, and four women were hired to be a part of the conference’s commentary team.
“Many of us have sat on the shoulders of women in this conference, and we want to highlight and celebrate those women,” she said. “I want to ensure women are represented and have a seat at the table.” — Lisa White