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Virginia set to be first Power Five school with African American woman as athletic director

Carla Williams is set to become Virginia’s new athletic director. (Photo courtesy of University of Georgia)

The University of Virginia is set to announce Carla Williams as its new athletic director, according to several people familiar with the search process, in a move that would make her the first African American woman to hold such a position among schools in the Power Five conferences.

Williams serves as Georgia’s deputy athletic director and will follow in the footsteps of Craig Littlepage, who became the first African American athletic director in ACC history when he was hired in 2001. Littlepage announced in early September that he planned to retire but would remain in his post until Virginia named a replacement.

At Georgia, Williams had a hand in virtually all aspects of managing the athletic department, including as a top administrator for both football and women’s basketball. Williams was an all-Southeastern Conference guard for the Bulldogs, playing from 1985 through 1989.

She has been at Georgia since 2004. Before coming back to work for her alma mater, Williams was associate director of athletics at Vanderbilt, where she oversaw 11 men’s and women’s sports.

Williams comes to Charlottesville without any ties to the university, somewhat of a departure for the school based on recent hires. Littlepage served as a men’s basketball assistant and administrator in several positions before becoming athletic director.

Immediately preceding Littlepage, Terry Holland was men’s basketball coach before taking over as athletic director in 1994.

Williams joins Virginia on the heels of the longest tenure by any athletic director in school history. The Cavaliers won 13 NCAA championships in 16 years under Littlepage and an ACC-high 64 conference titles since expansion in 2004-05.

But the football program has struggled in that span, going to just one bowl game since 2008 and keeping many fans away from Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers, under second-year Coach Bronco Mendenhall, are 5-2 this season following a 41-10 homecoming loss to Boston College on Saturday afternoon.

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