Earlier this month, Kentucky State University officials announced the hiring of Etienne M. Thomas as the new director of athletics. After review, several sources suggest AD Thomas is the first female to leave a Power Five school to lead athletics at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU); while there may have been two males who made the leap previously.
At the time of her hiring, it was believed that Thomas was possibly the first director of athletics to leave a Power Five school to lead athletics at an HBCU.
Southern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SIAC) Commissioner Gregory Moore provided details to Kentucky State with the context that the automatic qualification of the new Power Five conferences approved by the NCAA in August 2014 did not exist at the time of those previous appointments.
Commissioner Moore stated, “the terms ‘Power-Five’ and ‘autonomy-five’ are economic terms which were coined, in my judgement, after all five of these leagues entered into TV network joint ventures which dramatically changed the economic landscape and power dynamics of college sports, creating significant economic separation from the Power Five conferences and the balance of D1 leagues.”
After review, Kentucky State officials say there are at least two confirmed male directors of athletics that made the leap from NCAA Division I to HBCU. However, Thomas stands unchallenged as the first female athletic administrator from a Power Five program to transition to the senior role at one of the nation’s HBCUs.
“I am thankful to President Brown for the opportunity to do something I love, to impact the lives of young people, to represent Kentucky State University and the Thorobred brand and to be in a position to reach back and help other student-athletes, coaches and administrators see all of the great facets and opportunities in our industry of intercollegiate athletics for women, people of color and those who want to be part of the integration of academics and sport,” Thomas said.
“AD Thomas is the first female from a Power Five program to lead an HBCU,” Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II said. “We look forward to the transformation of Thorobred athletics under her direction.”