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Rising star shines in lead role

By Gary Brown

NCAA.org

When Portia Hoeg was a basketball star at Trinity (Texas), her forte was theft. These days as the athletics director at Allegheny, the woman who still ranks among Trinity’s all-time leaders in steals gives more than she takes. What she’s giving most these days is advice.

“When I meet with students, I tell them I want them to win on four different facets – in the classroom, in the community, in competition and in life,” said the leader who’s done a lot of each. “That encompasses everything you want your athletics program to be about – graduating your student-athletes at a high level and helping create these wonderful alumni to give back to their schools and their communities.”

Athletics administration wasn’t even a role Hoeg thought existed when she was disrupting dribblers and sinking 3-pointers for the nationally prominent Tigers. She was involved in other campus experiences, too, as a sorority member and president of the black student union.

“But as far as athletics was concerned, I knew only that basketball focus,” she said. “Now, I look at all sports and how all student-athletes fit into the bigger picture, not only from the campus point of view but also the community and national perspective.”

Hoeg is a nurturing type because she was nurtured herself. After she learned as an intern for the San Antonio Sports Foundation that athletics administration offered a legitimate career path, Hoeg ordered everything she could find on the athletics menu. She moved to Atlanta because it was a hotbed for sports. While there she garnered an internship with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and benefited from the tutelage of icon Betty Jaynes.

But Hoeg didn’t know if she had what it took to be an athletics director until Smith AD Lynn Oberbillig told her so. Hoeg was at Smith serving as a marketing, promotions and special events coordinator, and the longtime NCAA governance leader confirmed Hoeg’s ambitions.

“As long as Lynn has been around athletics and as much as she has accomplished over time, that meant a lot to me,” Hoeg said. “From that point on, I was pretty intent on accomplishing my goal. I’m an ambitious person. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to work for it.”

Hoeg ascended quickly. She was among the first class of Division III Women and Minority Internship Program participants a little more than a decade ago, and she’s the first from that program to become an AD. She served at Smith for two years and then became the interim assistant AD at Vassar in June 2004.

She joined the Lake Forest staff as assistant AD in 2005 and was promoted to associate AD and designated as the senior woman administrator in July 2008. Hoeg was announced as Allegheny’s AD in December 2011.

Along the way came involvement with the NCAA governance structure. Hoeg, who affectionately calls herself “a DIII snob,” was appointed to the Division III Management Council in 2010 and was recently named that group’s vice chair for the 2013 term.

She said that intimidates her, but her track record doesn’t substantiate the fear.

“I want to do what’s best for our Association and for our student-athletes,” she said. “And in the year that I am in this role, I am eager to carry out that mission.”