College Sports

Kentucky State taps power five school for ‘historic’ athletic director hire

Etienne Thomas was introduced Friday as Kentucky State University's new director of athletics.
Etienne Thomas was introduced Friday as Kentucky State University's new director of athletics.

Etienne M. Thomas has big plans for Kentucky State University athletics.

Considering where she came from that comes as no surprise.

Thomas was named KSU’s new director of athletics on Friday, a hire the school is calling historic. Thomas comes to Frankfort from Kansas University, where she was associate athletics director for student life.

“This is historic,” school president M. Christopher Brown II said. “Not just for Kentucky State University, but we’ve been talking to the NCAA and they’re double-checking, as well as the SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). This will be the first time that any of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities has recruited an athletic director from one of the power five conferences.”

In her role at Kansas, Thomas monitored, communicated with and advocated for student-athletes in the housing and university student code hearing proceedings, as well as partnered with the sexual assault prevention and education center to provide education, empowerment and prevention of sexual assault.

She previously served in athletics and compliance administrative positions at North Carolina Central, San Jose State, Howard and Saint Paul’s College.

Gregory Moore, commissioner of the SIAC, said Thomas helps the league “move the needle with respect to gender inclusion.”

Thomas said her vision for Thorobred athletics includes continuing to recruit student-athletes with strong academic profiles, competing at a championship level in the conference, finding an on-campus home for the softball team and adding tennis, soccer and swimming in the next 18 months.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as the director of athletics at Kentucky State University,” Thomas said. “President Brown is the right president for me. He has a vision. He’s intentional. He doesn’t believe in excuses.”