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March LuncheonStarts: Mar 05, 2015 at 11:30
Ends: Mar 05, 2015 at 01:00
Since his arrival in May of 2011, Vaughn Williams has initiated a transformation of the Kennesaw State University (KSU) Department of Athletics rarely seen in intercollegiate athletics.
From the time he walked off the podium following his introductory press conference, Williams has worked tirelessly to introduce new standards for the department, strengthen relations with the KSU community, establish a greater presence in the communities of Kennesaw and Acworth and Cobb, Paulding and Cherokee Counties, assemble an administrative team to carry out his vision, and chart a course that will lead Kennesaw State to the forefront of Division I intercollegiate athletics.
In his three years, Williams has overseen a re-branding of the Department of Athletics that includes new athletics marks, a partnership with Adidas to be the official apparel provider of the Owls, the installation of a state-of-the-art video board in the KSU Convocation Center, and the addition of women’s lacrosse as the program’s 17th sport.
The signature moment during his Kennesaw State tenure came on Feb. 13, 2013, when the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, approved the University’s request to add football and additional Title IX sports. Following the official announcement that football would become the program’s 18th intercollegiate sport on Feb. 14, Williams introduced former Georgia Tech assistant coach Brian Bohannon as head football coach on Mar. 26.
Bohannon is one of seven head coaches hired by Williams since he assumed the Director of Athletics position. He also named Lewis Preston as head men’s basketball coach in 2011, Nitra Perry and Kristina Llanes as head coaches for women’s basketball and lacrosse, respectively, in the spring of 2012, and Keith Schunzel as head volleyball coach in 2013. Wes Holly, who had served as associate head coach for softball, was named to the head coach post following the retirement of longtime head coach Scott Whitlock. During the spring of 2014, Williams elevated Jimmy Lallathin from interim head men’s basketball coach to head coach.
Behind the leadership of Williams, Kennesaw State also has been successful in cultivating relationships with the business community as the Department of Athletics has signed sponsorship agreements with Fifth Third Bank, WellStar Health System, Superior Plumbing and Henssler Financial that have brought in more than $10 million in revenue to support student-athletes and athletics facilities.
Central to Williams’ mission is making Kennesaw State University and its student-athletes the Department of Athletics’ number one priority and emphasizing to his staff the value of being servant leaders. That mission is being achieved through the Owls Champion Initiative (OCI) that among many programs includes the Student-Athlete Leadership Initiative and the Champions of Character Program. Other areas of re-organization and upgrades include the compliance department, Student-Athlete Success Services (SASS), sports medicine department, sport performance and sports psychology.
Kennesaw State reached new heights during the 2013-14 athletics season as three teams (baseball, men’s indoor track and field and men’s outdoor track and field) captured Atlantic Sun Conference titles. The baseball team’s championship was the first-ever at the Division I level and vaulted the Owls to the Tallahassee Regional title and a trip to the Super Regional in the program’s initial NCAA Division I postseason appearance.
The postseason run by the baseball team, combined with the men’s golf program advancing to the NCAA Championships and junior Kaew Preamchuen earning women’s golf’s first-ever individual berth to an NCAA regional brought unprecedented national exposure to Kennesaw State University and the Department of Athletics. That national exposure continued through the summer as rising seniors Jimmy Beck and Austin Vick competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship that was held at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Kennesaw State student-athletes once again excelled in the classroom as they combined to record a 3.07 cumulative grade-point average and 154 individuals earned A-Sun Conference all-academic honors.
Leading by example, Williams was named to the board of MUST Ministries, a volunteer-driven organization that addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties. He also works with the Golden Soldiers, a faith-based, non-profit focused on spreading the Golden Rule by providing year-round events, activities, and services for families and individuals with developmental disabilities.
Additionally, Williams is a member of the Cobb Sports Alliance and KSU's Economic Development Team. During the course of the last year, Williams has served as a member of the Consolidation Team and chaired an Operational Working Group as Kennesaw State and Southern Poly Technic State University managed the consolidation of the two universities.
Williams’ work and vision has not gone unnoticed as he was honored as one of four recipients of the Harold J. VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually by the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. Launched in 1993, the award recognizes McCormack alumni for their professional excellence and outstanding achievement in the sports industry as well as for their dedication to McCormack Sport Management.
Shortly after taking over as Director of Athletics, Williams guided the department’s effort to form the Kennesaw State University Athletics Association that gained approval by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on Aug. 10, 2011.
The creation of the association provides Kennesaw State with the business structure and flexibility needed to be competitive at the highest level of collegiate sports. Williams now has the authority and infrastructure to deal competitively with vendors and enter into multi-year contracts with his coaching staff — necessary ingredients to maintain competitiveness at the Division I level.
Williams is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA).
Williams earned a sports management degree from UMASS in 1992 before receiving a master’s degree from the Woods College of Advancing Studies at Boston College in 2002.
Williams and his wife, Eileen, have three children – Aidan, Austin and Lacey – and live in nearby Acworth.