By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Jennifer “Jenn” Strawley was attracted to Elon for various reasons as she becomes the university’s new athletics director.
“A place that I’ve really been drawn to because of the people,” she said, though among the topics that was repeated as she was introduced to the community Friday was that the school is “unafraid to be bold and innovative.”
Strawley comes from a role as senior deputy athletics director at Miami to fill the spot that was held for 17 years by retiring Dave Blank. Strawley spent 11 years at Miami after two stints with the NCAA office and time in Columbia’s athletics department.
University president Connie Book said Strawley separated herself from other candidates as being “the right leader for the right time.” She was presented with an Elon softball jersey during the introduction.
As Elon’s first female athletics director, she’ll officially begin her duties August 1.
“I’ve been so drawn to Elon and to its commitment to its values,” she said.
Without ties to the university, the past few months were largely a learning period as she discovered more about Elon. And she visited, of course.
“I was truly blown away by the campus and the facilities,” she said.
The introduction was held Friday morning at Schar Center, where athletes, current and past coaches, athletics department staff, and several boosters attended. Duke athletics director Nina King also was on hand.
Stawley was the sport administrator for football and women’s basketball at Miami. She also held the title as senior woman administrator.
“I pretty much oversaw all aspects at some point in that 11-year period,” Strawley said. “But spent my most time, recently, with football and women’s basketball.”
Elon has three sports – men’s golf, women’s lacrosse, softball – that Miami hasn’t fielded. As a college student, Strawley played softball for Pennsylvania, where she graduated in 1998.
After working for a power-conference school, shifting to a job at Elon will involve adjustments.
“There are differences and there are things about going to a bowl game that you love and appreciate, or the women in the Elite Eight or the men at the Final Four,” Strawley said. “At the end of the day, I still came to work every day for the same thing. And that was to impact lives of student-athletes that can move on and have a lifetime of opportunity beyond that.”
Her initial moves at Elon aren’t likely to be eye-opening.
“I’m going to take these first couple of months to listen and learn,” Strawley said.
The name of the NCAA Division I conference to which Elon belongs has changed its name.
It’s now the Coastal Athletic Association, an alteration from Colonial Athletic Association. It will remain widely known as the CAA. Its logo will stay the same.
Campbell became the league’s newest member this summer. North Carolina A&T will be a full member as well after competing in the CAA during the past school year in sports except for football.
Some press conference photos compliments of Elon University Athletics