SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Cheryl Levick

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Levick’s high-energy approach helped create a football
program at Georgia State in Atlanta.
Cheryl Levick
Georgia State University
Director of Athletics


Cheryl Levick will go down as the athletic director who brought football to Georgia State University. And while she’s just as passionate about the Panthers’ 17 other sports, she’s OK with that identity.

Levick is reminded how important it was to create a football program at the school in the heart of Atlanta almost every time she encounters an alum.

“I knew there would be a lot of excitement around football here, but what I didn’t expect were the alums, typically older, graying, who touch my arm and have tears in their eyes,” Levick said. “They’ve waited for decades to have a football team of their own that they can brag about at the office. It just touches my soul every time that happens.”

Levick, who came to Georgia State in 2009, has spent the better part of 25 years in athletic administration at several schools, but being at the forefront of so much change in an urban campus environment has been an experience unlike the rest.

“We really are at the pulse of the city,” Levick said. “We utilize every part of being here, and our students like the fast pace. I love it.”

— Michael Smith
  • Crowning professional achievement: There are two: winning 44 national championships during my administrative tenure at Stanford University; starting and launching GSU football.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: Every time one of my student athletes does not graduate.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: High energy, high expectations, fast-paced with attention to detail.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: (1) Alex Pifer, my 4-foot-11-inch physical education teacher in high school. She is the reason I am in this business. (2) Jerry Porras, author of “Built to Last,” longtime friend and mentor from Stanford University.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Having enough money and resources to compete at the highest level in athletics. We are always fundraising.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Strong work ethic and positive energy.
  • If I had to do it all over again, I would …: Have adjusted my educational track and gotten a J.D. after my master’s in athletic administration. I enjoy contracts and legal work.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Cheryl Levick has come into the Atlanta sports marketplace and built very close relationships and she’s well-respected by those of us in the Atlanta college sports community. Her knowledge, spirit of partnership, and dedication to Georgia State athletics is admirable and commendable.”

  • Gary Stokan, CEO/president, Chick-fil-A Bowl
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