Correction: A Nov. 16 Sports story about Stephanie Evans being named athletics director of D.C. Public Schools said Evans was the first woman to hold the position. The position of DCPS athletic director was created in 1988. Before that time, the athletic director's responsibilities were overseen by the director of health, physical education and athletics. Vinna L. Freeman held that position, and was responsible for DCPS athletics, from 1981 until 1988.
D.C. Public Schools on Tuesday introduced Stephanie Evans as its athletics director, making her the first woman to hold the position that oversees athletics for all the city’s middle and high school students.
Evans, 39, is the fourth person to hold the position in the past three years, and she takes over at a time when the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association’s public image has been taking a beating.
“We’ve been able to find a leader who we think can restore DCPS athletic programs to its former glory,” D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said Tuesday morning at a news conference on Eastern High’s football field that included Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
She becomes the second woman recently named to a position of prominence in the DCIAA. In March 2010, Coolidge hired Natalie Randolph as its football coach.
“She was the best candidate, period,” Gray said of Evans. “Just like Natalie Randolph, she has demonstrated she’s the best coach irrespective of gender.”
She will head a department that oversees athletics in 111 schools in grades 4 through 12; the total 2011-12 DCPS enrollment is approximately 46,000 students, according to a DCPS spokesman.
A 1990 graduate of Potomac (Md.) High School, Evans served for the past year as director of player development for the Holy Cross basketball team and later as an assistant athletic director at the Kensington private school. A former Bowie State player, Evans was a head women’s basketball coach at UDC, Virginia State and, most recently, Kentucky State.
“I’m excited to take on the administrative role,” Evans said. “It’s a natural transition for most coaches to transition to being an administrator. The experiences that I’ve had in non-profit management have certainly helped me for this time. The exposure that I’ve had in athletic offices, working at Division II, a lot of the responsibilities that we have, from marketing and promotion, community service, it all falls on you at a small school.”
She arrives at a time when the league’s public profile has been subject to a series of blows, starting with an eligibility scandal that cast a cloud over last season’s Turkey Bowl, the DCIAA football title game and the league’s marquee event. This year, three of the DCIAA’s 11 football teams were involved in on-field fights that ended games and resulted in forfeits, scheduling issues plagued the start of the football season and an eleventh-hour rule change allowed fifth-year seniors to compete, casting the league’s ability to compete against other area schools in doubt.
“We are going to enforce the rules,” she said. “First and foremost, the athletic department is going to make sure we’re enforcing the rules and we do want to work to improve the image and the visibility of our athletic department and all of our sporting events.”
Evans replaces interim athletic director Willie Jackson, who oversaw the department for three months after Marcus Ellis resigned in July following a two-year stint. Henderson said Jackson would stay on to advise Evans in her transition.
Among the early issues Evans said she is interested in tackling are student-athlete eligibility issues, the proper education and training of coaches and officials, and participation of girls in DCIAA sports.
Evans takes over at a time when there’s been a push for female participation in DCIAA athletics with schools such as Ballou recently adding lacrosse and Wilson adding field hockey. In 2009-10, 28 percent of the participants in school-sponsored sports were girls, according to DCPS figures.
Evans suggested creating a player development program to help identify talented young female athletes and help train them.
“We want to take a look at and make sure that we’re offering our support from our office to make sure that we are growing programs for our young ladies of DCPS to participate in,” she said.
Evans was a standout point guard at Potomac (Md.) who went on to play at Bowie State, where she eared a bachelors degree in psychology and a masters in counseling psychology.
She began her coaching career at 22 as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Bowie State in 1994. After a stint at Columbia Union College, now known as Washington Adventist University, she was hired as an assistant women’s basketball coach at UDC and was head coach from 2000 to 2003.
She then spent two seasons as head coach at Virginia Union and later at a Rockville-based nonprofit. Evans then spent three seasons as Kentucky State’s head coach, leading the school to its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Division II tournament.