By Eric Moore
As 2016 winds down, there has been a lot of movement among HBCU sports information directors (SID). Various titles associated with promoting athletics programs have begun to be used to describe positions within a department that encompass more than writing press releases and recording statistics.
The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), a national organization comprised of sports public relations, media relations, and communications/information professions throughout the United States and Canada, lists as part of its mission: “play a significant leadership and resource role for strategic communicators for college athletics”.
Many operations have started using the term “strategic communicators” as a way to identify an expanded role for practitioners in the profession.
Black College strategic communications movement in 2016 began in January with the resignation of Patricia Porter as Assistant Commissioner for Media Relations for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) after nine years, to take a position as Director of Corporate Partnerships at Spectra by Comcast Spectacor.
Porter was succeeded during the summer by Ryan McGinty who had been Director of Sports Information at Prairie View A&M University for the past seven years. McGinty had also worked at Grambling State University before moving to Prairie View.
The opening at PVAM was filled by Duane Lewis who left Alabama State University after five years as Director of Sports Information to become Assistant Athletic Director/Communications and Marketing for the Panthers. He was joined by LaTonia Thirston, longtime Program Assistant at ASU who was named Assistant Sports Information Director at PVAM.
Lewis’ position at ‘Bama State was filled on an interim basis by Peter Holehan who had been a Staff Associate/Assistant Sports Information Director since 2014.
ASU Media Relations Specialist Darrell Orand left the office in October to become Assistant Sports Information Director at Coastal Carolina University.
Elsewhere in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the conference office lost its Director of Communications in November when Jasher Cox resigned after four years to become Assistant Commissioner of Communications and Broadcasting for the Horizon League.
Holehan has just announced that he will be leaving Alabama State at the end of December to fill the position that Cox just vacated.
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) has also had some shifts in personnel. In the conference office, Sherie Gordon resigned as Senior Associate Commissioner for Business and External Administration in August to become Director of Athletics at Albany State University.
Gordon’s former position at the CIAA was filled last month by Suzette McQueen, Senior Associate Commissioner of External Operations and Strategic Marketing. McQueen’s arrival has resulted in the departure of Adrian Ferguson, former Associate Commissioner for Media Relations, and the promotion of Bri Funte, Ferguson’s former assistant, to Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Communication.
Elsewhere in the CIAA, April Emory resigned in August as Sports Information Director at Elizabeth City State University after 15 years. Her former position has been filled by John Westbrook, Jr. who brings experience from Jackson State University and Virginia State University.
Robert “Bob” Heller was named sports information director at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in October filling a position left vacant when Jason Pompey was hired as SID at Coppin State University in December 2015.
Former CIAA SID of the Year, Allie Kolezynski has resigned as Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Athletic Communications at Chowan University to become an Assistant Commissioner at the Mountain East Conference.
Cassandra Artis-Williams is midway through her second year as interim SID and head cheerleader coach of the Woo Woos at Virginia State University. VSU is still searching for a full-time SID.