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Volume 20 No. 45
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Spotlight: Jacqie Carpenter, CIAA commissioner

New CIAA commissioner learned humility at first job

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association recently named Jacqie Carpenter commissioner. Carpenter spent almost a decade working in championships at the NCAA, where she was director of the Division I women’s basketball tournament in 2006 and joined the Division I men’s basketball staff in 2008. She spoke with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Anna Hrushka.

Age: 43
New title: Commissioner, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Previous title: Director of championships and alliances, NCAA.
First job: Receptionist at a computer company.
Education: Bachelor of arts, psychology, Hampton University (1991); master of arts, sports management and administration, Temple University (1993).
Resides: Hampton, Va.
Grew up: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Executive most admired: Judy Sweet, former NCAA senior vice president for championships and education services.
Favorite vacation spot: I love the Caribbean islands. It doesn’t matter which one.
Last book read: “The Warmth of Other Suns.”
Favorite movie: “The Color Purple.”
Favorite musician/band: Will Downing.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new job?
Getting an inventory of everything we’re doing and everything we’re not doing. It’s important that we’re all on the same page on how we’re going to move forward.

What is the biggest risk you've taken in your career?
Whenever I don’t follow what my gut or spirit tells me, I’m taking a risk. I don’t want to say going into this position is courageous, but I went for this position with the intention that I would be the next commissioner. By speaking it and talking to people who maybe thought I was crazy, I was taking a risk.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
I was hired to build our Final Four community programs and work with our corporate sponsors to engage them in what we do for community programs. We went from a handful of programs in Detroit in 2009 to over 15.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
My first job as a receptionist for a computer company. I had a master’s degree yet could not break my way into the industry. … It was extremely frustrating, but it taught me to be humble. I realized it was just as important to pick up the phone and speak politely to people as it was to make a big decision about an event or contract.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
I’m always interested in the stories about higher education and athletics and how universities manage their athletic programs.  

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I’d like to see more minorities in leadership roles.