The university hosted a press conference at Schar Center on Friday, July 21, to introduce Jennifer Strawley to the community as the institution’s 20th director of athletics.
Elon University offered a warm welcome to Jennifer Strawley, who will join the university on Aug. 1 as its 20th director of athletics.
Members of the media joined a crowd brimming with student-athletes, coaches, staff, supporters and local residents in Schar Center to hear from President Connie Ledoux Book on Friday, July 21, as she introduced Strawley to the university community. The gathering provided an opportunity for Strawley to offer her thoughts about joining Elon from the University of Miami, where she served as senior deputy director of athletics since 2014, and her vision for Elon Athletics in the years to come.
“We have a fun and exciting road ahead of us,” Strawley said to the crowd gathered on the concourse in Schar Center. “Together, we will boldly set a course that will enable Phoenix athletics to soar to new heights.”
Strawley oversaw all day-to-day operations of the athletics department at Miami, where she has worked since 2012. She served as Interim Director of Athletics from November to December 2021 and was the sport administrator for football and women’s basketball, as well as the department’s Senior Woman Administrator.
Prior to her time at the University of Miami, Strawley worked for the NCAA as the Director of Academic and Membership Affairs. In this role, she oversaw academic policy and governance issues, academic education, and the internal inclusion team. She began her career at the NCAA managing student-athlete reinstatement and eligibility and serving as a liaison to multiple committees within the NCAA governance structure.
President Connie Ledoux Book shared that Strawley arrives at a pivotal moment in the history of Elon Athletics as the university has built programs committed to success and has added some of the finest athletics facilities in the nation. Book noted that Strawley comes to Elon with an exceptional track record of experience and achievements and a deep understanding of collegiate athletics through her work at the NCAA and the University of Miami.
“We look forward to a future in which our student-athletes are successful in their respective sports, supported and empowered to excel academically and grow as individuals,” Book said. “Jennifer’s commitment to the holistic development of our student-athletes aligns perfectly with our institution’s values, and her presence will undoubtedly enhance the overall experience of our athletes.”
During her time at Miami, Strawley played a key role in the hiring of multiple head coaches. She transformed and improved many aspects of Miami athletics including creating a performance, health and wellness department, enhancing competitive success, improving facilities, ensuring academic achievement, increasing fundraising and implementing many priorities to enhance the student-athlete experience. In 2021, Strawley was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Administrator of the Year.
As an undergraduate student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, Strawley played softball, serving as a two-year team captain. She graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in sociology. Strawley told those gathered in Schar Center she had seen firsthand how college athletics provides a unique opportunity for young people to grow and learn through the vehicle of sport.
“I am a product of that experience and I know that I would not be the leader or professional I am today without the lessons I learned through competing in sports and the time I spent as a student-athlete at Penn,” Strawley said. “It is the opportunity to impact the lives of students through sport and watch them grow during their time as student-athletes knowing we shape the next generation of leaders that drives me every day and has instilled values in me focused on integrity, innovation, excellence, teamwork and humility.”
As an institution, Strawley said, Elon is committed to its students, is focused on mentorship and values its people and culture, all elements that Strawley said drew her to the university. Looking ahead, Strawley said Elon will be committed to putting the student-athlete at the heart of every decision and will work tirelessly to prepare them for a life of impact beyond Elon. She said Elon Athletics will excel competitively and position its teams for continued success and for conference championships while engaging with the community and energizing the Elon brand.
“We must be bold and innovative to best position Elon for success in the ever-changing world of intercollegiate athletics while remaining steadfast in our commitment to our values and to our integrity,” Strawley said.
Strawley and Book both offered words of thanks and appreciation to Dave Blank, who served Elon for 17 years as director of athletics with a career Book said has been “nothing short of extraordinary.” Blank has set an example that has inspired athletes, coaches and staff while leading Elon’s athletics program during a period of unprecedented growth and achievement.
“Dave’s steadfast commitment to the holistic development of our student-athletes, emphasizing both academic achievement and personal growth, has been remarkable,” Book said. “And his dedication to fostering a culture of sportsmanship, integrity
and inclusivity has set the standard for others to follow. Dave has been a true advocate for the well-being of our student-athletes, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to thrive both athletically and academically.”
Following the conclusion of Strawley’s remarks, Book presented her with one of her first pieces of Phoenix gear — an Elon softball jersey bearing her last name. “Our softball team has had exciting seasons under Coach Kathy Bocock’s leadership and you’ll enjoy sitting in the Hunt Softball Park stands cheering them on in just a few months,” Book said.