Etienne Thomas

Kentucky State Director of Athletics Etienne Thomas. (Photo submitted)

Etienne Thomas, director of athletics at Kentucky State University, has been named the next director of athletics at Winston-Salem State University.

Winston-Salem State Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson made the announcement in an email to faculty, staff and students on Wednesday.

The State Journal reached out to Kentucky State University for a comment but had not received a response before press time.

“This is my dream job,” Thomas said in a story posted on the Winston-Salem State University website. “Returning home to North Carolina and the CIAA is a full circle moment. I am thankful for the opportunity and the trust that the Board and Chancellor Robinson have placed in me as the next servant leader for Rams Athletics. 

“The coaches, staff and I will ensure our student-athletes have a first-class experience at WSSU. This begins with academic success and graduation, winning championships, alumni and community engagement, mental health and wellness and retention."

At WSSU, Thomas will lead a program that includes 10 teams, approximately 275 student-athletes, and 33 athletics staff. She will fill the role previously held by Tonia Walker, who resigned in May 2018.

George Knox, associate athletic director for compliance, has served as the interim athletic director and will return to his role when Thomas officially begins her duties on Jan. 1.

Kentucky State and Winston-Salem State are both NCAA Div. II schools.

Thomas has nearly two decades of experience as an athletics administrator. She has worked at Division I and Division II institutions, among them North Carolina Central University (NCCU), San Jose State University, Howard University, Saint Paul’s College and the University of Kansas.

A 1996 graduate of NCCU, Thomas has also completed coursework for a law degree from the University of Iowa. In 2006, she completed the 18-month NCAA Fellows Program. She is a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and is a member of Minority Opportunities Athletics Association, Women Leaders in College Sports, National Association of Collegiate Directors of America and the National Association of Athletics Compliance.

Thomas will be WSSU’s third female athletic director and is among only 23 female African-American athletic directors in the NCAA.

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