“I’m anxious to get started,” Williams said during a news conference in Charlottesville. “I got here two days ago, and so there is a lot for me to learn. I do consider myself a lifelong learner, and I’m looking forward to getting here and finding out more from the coaches, from the student-athletes and from all of our stakeholders so we can begin to put together a program that all of you can be proud of, to continue to be proud of.”
At Georgia, Williams had a hand in virtually all aspects of managing an 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 ’89.
She had 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’s familiarity with football in particular, school officials said, made her especially qualified for the job.
“We want to have somebody who is responsible and had responsibility for all of the sports or nearly all of the sports,” said Virginia rector Rusty Conner, seated on the stage with Williams and U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan. “I think you’ve been responsible for all but three, perhaps. And most importantly, we needed someone who knew football and knew football at a very high level.”
The Cavaliers have struggled in football for the most part during Littlepage’s tenure, going to just one bowl game since 2008.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall, however, has Virginia one victory from bowl eligibility in just his second season. The Cavaliers lost to Boston College, 41-10, this past weekend at homecoming but had won four in a row, including dismantling Boise State, 42-23, on the road Sept. 22.
“I had a chance to spend a little bit of time with Bronco, and of course we’ve got to spend a lot more time together to get this going,” Williams said. “But I think you have the right person. From the outside looking in, you’ve got a high character person, great integrity, very successful history.”
Williams comes to Virginia without any ties to the university, a departure for the school based on recent AD hires. Littlepage was a men’s basketball assistant and administrator before becoming athletic director. Immediately preceding Littlepage, Terry Holland had been men’s basketball coach before taking over as athletic director in 1994.
Williams also arrives 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.
“College athletics is a challenging enterprise,” Williams said. “The way that Virginia wants to do it is the way that I am built to do it, and we’ll continue to focus on academic achievement. We’ll do it with integrity. We’ll give maximum effort, and we’re going to come together as a team, not just within our different sports teams but within the athletic department and within the Charlottesville community.”