After heading Clark Atlanta University’s athletic department for the past five years while witnessing the Panthers capture seven Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) championships during her tenure, Athletic Director Dr. Tamica, Smith-Jones has decided it’s time to move on.
Smith-Jones has agreed to serve as Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator (SWA) for the University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA), effective Aug. 1. The announcement came Monday from UTSA Athletics Director Lynn Hickey. Smith-Jones replaces Elizabeth Dalton, who left in February to become the athletics director at St. Mary’s University, also in San Antonio.
“She has very unique experience in that she already has been an AD, so we are very fortunate that we are able to add that type of experience to our staff. Plus, she is extremely bright, has a high energy level and is a well-respected administrator in our profession. She is going to be an outstanding addition for our department,” said Hickey.
“It is both humbling and exciting to join this university during this historic time for athletics,” Smith-Jones said in a recent interview. “This is a unique, new opportunity to do more business affairs in athletics, which is my educational background. I have a high business acumen that I have yet to expand on.”
The Atlanta-native was first appointed liaison to CAU’s Office of the President back in January 2008. She was then promoted to interim director of athletics in December of that same year before being named director in January 2010, overseeing 11 intercollegiate sports teams (six women’s teams and five men’s teams), more than 200 student-athletes and 30 staff members.
“I will miss the close-knit aspect of the CAU campus the most – knowing all of my student-athletes by name. The administration and alumni support during my tenure has been unforgettable,” Smith-Jones added.
Since 2008, the Panthers’ championship banners include the first men’s basketball title (2011) in 46 years, and first-ever women’s cross country (2009, 2011) and women’s volleyball (2011) crowns. Women’s tennis also captured two titles (2008, 2011) and most recently, the CAU women’s basketball team took top honors at the 2013 SIAC tournament held at Morehouse College.
Most important, Smith-Jones has also played a vital role in securing funding for numerous projects on the HBCU campus, including new field turf for the football stadium, a pair of weight room upgrades and a football facility renovation. She established CAU’s “Athletics Annual Giving Fund” in 2008 and instituted several new opportunities for student-athlete participation and staff development.
She was also featured in the Diverse Issues in Higher Ed Magazine (Maria, this must be italicized) in March 2013 for bringing heightened attention to student-athletes’ well-being, and establishing a successful academic support program at Clark Atlanta. Her initiatives included “Grades First Software,” which helped to enhance the student-athlete experience and academic success.
Prior to entering athletics administration, Smith-Jones was the head volleyball coach at Clark Atlanta during the 2003-05 seasons. She guided the Panthers to 57 victories in her three years, including four against NCAA Division I teams. She also led the Clark Atlanta Lady Panthers to a 27-11 record in her second campaign and was subsequently named SIAC Coach of the Year. She then followed with a 21-7 mark in 2005.