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Letter from Chancellor Robinson – New Athletic Director Named

Dear Ram Family,

I am elated to share that Ms. Etienne M.H. Thomas will be joining the Ram Family as the new Director of Athletics for Winston-Salem State University. Her appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2020. I want to thank Mr. George Knox for his incredible service as interim Director of Athletics since May 2018. Mr. Knox has served admirably in this role, providing incredible leadership throughout his tenure. He will be returning to his position as Associate Athletic Director for Compliance upon Ms. Thomas’s arrival.

Ms. Thomas brings to Winston-Salem State University more than 19 years of experience as a seasoned athletics administrator. Currently serving as the Director of Athletics at Kentucky State University, she has worked at both Division I and Division II institutions, among them North Carolina Central University, San Jose State University, Howard University, Saint Paul’s College, and the University of Iowa—a Power 5 conference school. Ms. Thomas has a long list of career highlights that include serving as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference representative on the NCAA Division I Council, as a member of the NCAA Governance Student-Athlete Experience Committee and a council liaison to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Included among her many accomplishments is assisting NCCU with its transition from a Division II independent program to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and its transition to Learfield/LRG licensing.

A 1996 graduate of NCCU, Ms. Thomas has also completed coursework for a J.D. degree from The University of Iowa College of Law. In 2006, she completed the 18-month NCAA Fellows Program. She is a lifetime member of the 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.

Ms. Thomas will be WSSU’s third female athletic director and is among only 23 female African-American athletic directors in the NCAA. A trailblazer, she brings the critical leadership skills and executive presence needed to meet the university’s strategic goals related to athletics. She understands how WSSU Athletics fits into our Strategic Plan, and knows that it is as important for our student-athletes to succeed in the classroom in addition to on the field. She is an intellectual in her discipline, a thought-leader among NCAA athletic directors, and is current on the trends in athletics across the country.  Having worked at a sister UNC System institution and as a North Carolina native, she is very familiar with WSSU, our programs, our alumni, and the challenges and opportunities of Division II athletics.

I am excited to welcome this dynamic leader to the university. I am confident she will leverage the existing strengths of the Department of Athletics to elevate our programs to the next level. There are two opportunities to learn more about Ms. Thomas in the coming days. A press conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The livestream can be found at Additionally, Ms. Thomas will be interviewed on Future Focus on WSNC Radio 90.5 at 1 p.m. on Thursday. A livestream of that broadcast will be available on WSNC’s Facebook page.

Please join me in welcoming Ms. Etienne Thomas and in thanking Mr. George Knox for his service.

Elwood L. Robinson

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