Carla Williams broke a major barrier in the realm of college sports on Monday after becoming the first Black woman to be appointed to athletic director at the University of Virginia, the Washington Post reported.
Prior to her appointment, Williams served as the deputy athletic director at her alma mater, the University of Georgia, where she oversaw the entire athletic department, the news outlet writes. Before she began working at the school in 2004, she served as the associate director of athletics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Her new role not only makes her the first Black woman to take on the athletic director position at the school, but she is the first Black woman to do so within the Power Five conferences. Her predecessor, Craig Littlepage, was the first Black athletic director in the ACC and had been in the role since 2001.
“Yes, I am an African-American female. I see that every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror,” Williams, 49, told the New York Daily News. “I do understand and appreciate the historic nature of me being named athletics director at the University of Virginia. I will continue to be a role model to help others reach their goals.”
Williams’ appointment comes at a time where UVA and Charlottesville are plagued by racism and diversity issues. According to the New York Daily News, Black student enrollment at the University of Virginia is extremely low and there aren’t any Black coaches currently working at the institution. Racial tensions still remain high in Charlottesville following the White supremacist rallies that took place back in August.
Despite those obstacles, Williams remains hopeful about the impact that she will make in the lives of student-athletes at the university. “Winning championships and getting a great education, those things aren’t mutually exclusive. This is one of those places in the country where the foundation is there,” she told the New York Daily News.