You are here

NCAA announces 2020-21 Pathway Program participants

Yearlong training to help administrators prepare for roles as athletics directors or conference commissioners

The NCAA leadership development office, in partnership with the Board of Governors Committee To Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity, has selected 20 senior-level administrators to participate in the NCAA Pathway Program, with the goal of preparing these individuals to attain positions as directors of athletics or conference commissioners.

Throughout the yearlong program, participants engage in a series of experiential learning opportunities focused on advancing them to the top role in an athletics department or conference, while building their skills to thrive in their current duties. This includes a focus on how to thrive in the ever-evolving intercollegiate athletics landscape shaped by recent prominent developments in society.

The active learning curriculum features a diverse mix of case study assignments, higher education and athletics leadership engagement, exploration of culture development, and insight into hiring practices and interview preparation.

“The Pathway Program represents one of NCAA leadership development’s most transformative offerings. Through investing in the development of those who coach, teach and lead them, we have a profound impact on the student-athlete experience through engaging participants in this marquee program,” said DeeDee Merritt, director of leadership development. “This track record in achieving its intended outcome has resulted in the creation of a vast alumni pool populated with the most influential leaders in college sports.” 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the group of administrators from meeting in person this summer, these college athletics leaders from all three divisions will connect virtually for an engaging week of virtual programming June 22-26. Participants will hear from accomplished speakers who will help facilitate critical conversations on an array of topics related to the state of college athletics. The curriculum will foster skill building by emphasizing values clarification, personal development and self-awareness, media training, diversity and inclusion, and organizational leadership.

“The 2020-21 Pathway cohort represents a diverse group of administrators who have demonstrated impressive leadership capabilities and potential to flourish as college athletics’ next wave of capable decision-makers,” Merritt said. “We are immensely excited to play a role in guiding these individuals along their professional journeys.”

After their initial virtual meeting, participants will be separated divisionally, with Division I administrators and Division II and III administrators receiving division-specific programming. The participants will meet at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis in October to gain experience with the NCAA governance structure before selecting a destination for a spring site visit. In the spring meeting, they will receive the opportunity to interact and engage with industry professionals at a wide variety of organizations, providing a well-rounded outlook on leadership styles in and outside athletics.

Over the past 22 years, the acclaimed Pathway Program (formerly the Fellows Program) has produced over 200 alumni. Fifty-five of those participants (over 25%) have become directors of athletics or conference commissioners, including 46 who identify as either minorities or females. The 2019 Pathway Program alone has produced five athletics directors since commencement of programming last June. 

The 2020-21 NCAA Division I Pathway Program participants:

  • Sarah Adams, deputy athletics director/senior woman administrator, Eastern Washington.
  • Amy Calabrese, associate athletics director, Louisville.
  • Dena Freeman-Patton, deputy athletics director/chief operating officer, New Orleans.
  • Jessica Grasso, deputy commissioner, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
  • Hank Harrawood, deputy athletics director, Winthrop.
  • Farrah Manthei, deputy director of athletics, University of Illinois at Chicago.
  • Mario Morris, deputy athletics director, chief financial officer for business operations, Notre Dame.
  • Amy Olson, associate athletics director for administration/senior woman administrator, Howard.
  • Trayvean Scott, deputy athletics director and chief operating officer, Southern University.
  • Ike Ukaegbu, senior associate athletics director for compliance, TCU.

The 2020-21 NCAA Division II and Division III Pathway Program participants:

  • Katie Benoit, associate athletics director of operations and facilities/senior woman administrator, Western Colorado University.
  • Glen Brittich, assistant athletics director, Elmhurst.
  • Ashley Hodges, assistant athletics director/senior woman administrator, Rosemont.
  • Angela Marin, associate athletics director, compliance/senior woman administrator, Texas-Dallas.
  • Jacqueline Nicholson, associate athletics director/senior woman administrator, Albany State (Georgia).
  • Lauren Packer Webster, associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator, Mercyhurst.
  • Andre Roach, associate athletics director for compliance, Shorter.
  • Jonathan Schwartz, associate athletics director/sports information director, Case Western Reserve.
  • Leslie Shevlin, associate athletics director/senior woman administrator, Willamette.
  • Mark Shook, senior associate athletics director, internal operations, Kentucky Wesleyan.