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Howard's Norrell-Thomas Named NACWAA Administrator of the Year

September 9, 2004

Howard University Director of Athletics Sondra Norrell-Thomas has been named the 2004 1-AA Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA). Ms Norrell-Thomas and the six other honorees will accept their awards at the NACWAA Fall Forum in New York City, October 9-12, 2004.
Sondra Norrell-Thomas

The Administrator of the Year Awards are presented to NACWAA members for significant contributions made as an administrator of intercollegiate athletics. The award, recognizing administrative excellence, is presented annually to a NACWAA Division 1-A, 1-AA, 1-AAA; Division II; Division III; NAIA/Junior/Community Colleges; and conferences/organizations.

Ms. Norrell-Thomas has been the driving force behind the Howard University athletics program for almost 40 years. She was the first female director of athletics in the history of Howard.

Prior to her current position, she served as interim athletics director. Norrell-Thomas had also served as Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs and as the senior woman administrator of athletics.

Norrell-Thomas, who received her MS degree from Howard University in 1973, is a 39-year University employee, who has been integrally involved in collegiate athletics for most of her career. She served as the University’s first full-time associate athletics director from 1974 to 1986, and was the driving force behind women’s sports at the University when she was named as the University’s first coordinator of women’s athletics in 1972.

She currently serves as one of the University’s representatives to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the NCAA. Norrell-Thomas now serves on the Division 1 Championship and Competition Cabinet. She has also served on the NCAA Council, the organization’s decision-making body, from 1983-86 and again from 1995-96 and on the NCAAs Academics, Eligibility and Compliance Cabinet from 1997-2000.

Norrell-Thomas, who graduated from Maggie Walker High School in Richmond, VA at the age of 16, is a 1961 graduate of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) with a BS degree in physical education and biology. While at Hampton, she started what would become a long list of firsts. Norrell-Thomas was the first student to be a member of the athletics advisory committee (for men’s sports as there were no women’s sports at the time). She went on to teach at Howard and found time to volunteer in the athletics department before being named the first coordinator of women’s sports. She was later named part-time Assistant Athletics Director as she lobbied and received scholarship money for the women’s sports she coordinated.

Norrell-Thomas is the first female to be inducted into the MEAC Hall of Fame and was the first female member of the committee that selected the conference’s first full-time commissioner. She was also the first to serve as a consultant to the MEAC Council of Presidents/Chancellors.

During her tenure, she has upgraded the Howard athletic program, hiring more than 30 staff members, including the program’s first-ever strength and conditioning coach, associate director of athletics for academic advising and student support services and assistant sports information director.

She was also instrumental in helping the University’s Division of Advancement create “The Bison Express,” the fundraising arm of the athletics department. In addition, she has worked with University officials to initiate marketing/revenue-generating initiatives for her department.

She remains one of only a handful of women in her position at Division 1 institutions.


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