NEW ORLEANS – The Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Council of Presidents has announced that Dillard University's Director of Athletics Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes will serve as the interim commissioner of the conference.
"I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to Dr. Barnes for her willingness to serve in this critical capacity through this transition period as we work to identify a permanent replacement," said Philander Smith College President Dr. Roderick L. Smothers.
The search has begun for the third commissioner in the league's history. Previous commissioner Steve Martin was recently hired as the commissioner of the Mississippi Association Community & Junior Colleges. Martin has served as the GCAC commissioner since 2014 after replacing Dr. Thomas Howell, who was the commissioner since the inception of the conference in 1980.
"Dr. Barnes helped us during the transition following Dr. Howell's resignation," said Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan.
Barnes, who recently was named a 2018-19 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year recipient, will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Conference, including scheduling games and management of all championship events.
"The GCAC will be in great hands with Dr. Barnes," said National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) President and CEO Jim Carr.
Barnes assumed the leadership role in Dillard's athletics department in 2006.
Among her leadership successes, Dr. Barnes led the revitalization and return of Dillard's athletic department following Hurricane Katrina, ultimately transitioning the program into to a national model of student-athlete success and community service.
Since taking the helm, Dillard's athletic program has seen the establishment of new sports teams and the university's first endowed athletics scholarship.
Dr. Barnes' accomplishments in this role also include: implementing a multi-faceted fundraising strategy; increasing student-athlete graduation rates to 78%; facilitating a technological rebrand of the athletics department; envisioning, implementing and securing title sponsorship for the All State Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic; and producing the annual So You Want A Career in Athletics event, which introduces girls ages 13 – 18 to careers in sports. Dr. Barnes was selected as one of New Orleans CityBusiness 50 "Women of the Year" honorees for 2018. Dr. Barnes also sits on the board of director for several organizations, including Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and the NAIA Athletics Directors Association, in which she serves as Vice President of the Executive Committee.
To date, Dr. Barnes is the only female athletic director for intercollegiate sports in Louisiana. Nationally, she directed organizational growth as the first elected female and first African American president of the GCAC of the NAIA. She has been recognized by the GCAC, New Orleans Pelicans, Girls Scouts of Louisiana and several media outlets her for sports leadership.