DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Today’s press conference at Cameron Indoor Stadium was historic in many ways. It was the first press conference requiring masks. Everyone was socially distanced and Duke University President Vincent Price introduced Nina King as Duke’s next Vice President and Director of Athletics.
King will succeed Kevin White, who is retiring after 13 years in the post, on September 1. Among Power 5 institutions, King joins Vanderbilt’s Candice Storey Lee and Virginia’s Carla Williams as Black female directors of athletics.
“I have often said that Duke’s excellence begins with the extraordinary people that come here to work, to study, conduct research, and serve our neighbors,” said Price. “Nina is just such an extraordinary person. She will continue to foster a community in Duke Athletics that welcomes and supports all its members. I should also note that while Nina did not attend Duke as a student, her husband Rick and her kids have fully indoctrinated her into life as a Blue Devil.”
King was selected for the position following a national search that was led by G. Richard Wagoner, former chair of the Duke Board of Trustees, and a committee that included Duke trustees, administrators, faculty, and current and former student-athletes.
“I’m often asked, why Duke?” said King during her speech. “For me the answer is simple. Duke is a magical place. The commitment to excellence is unmistakable and most importantly the drive and ambition amongst all the Duke students are inspirational. The people of this community are passionate and dedicated. I am proud that Duke Athletics plays a significant part in making Duke University so special. Duke is a top 10 institution in the country, a top 25 institution in the world, a pinnacle player in higher education – why not?”
New to the role but not new to the school. In 13 years on Duke’s staff, King has served as the chief operating officer for Duke Athletics, with direct responsibility for human resources, Recreation and Physical Education, legal and regulatory affairs, as well as strategic planning and special projects. She also oversees Duke’s women’s basketball and football programs.
In addition, King co-teaches a sports business course in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business as part of Duke’s MBA program alongside Dr. White. She also championed the creation and launch of the Rubenstein-Bing ACE program, a collaboration between Stanford and Duke for global civic engagement for student-athletes from both athletics departments.
“To the Duke student-athletes, current and those I have had the pleasure of working with over the past 13 years: Thank you for making me look good and for making us look good,” said King. “The most meaningful part of what I have been blessed to do throughout my career has been the opportunity to be a small part of your lives. There is nothing more special to me than watching you all come to Duke and grow as people and as leaders and go out into the world and become global citizens, change-makers and successful adults.”
King went on to thank her family as well as those that helped her along the way. She then gave us a glimpse of what her tenure as AD will be like.
“So what is Duke Athletics going to be about in the Nina King era? First and foremost we are going to continue to provide a world-class experience for our student-athletes, a meaningful and enriching academic and athletic experience. We are going to ensure that our student-athletes are performing in the classroom, graduating, and are afforded every opportunity to be productive members of society once they leave Duke,” said King. “We’re going to provide opportunities for competitive success, to win ACC and NCAA championships, build on the momentum of this historic year that we are having. We have six conference championships – unmatched. We will build on the incredibly rich traditions and our departmental strengths by being innovative and modern in our approach.”
She did address the historic significance of her hiring before leaving the stage.
“I am a female Black athletic director. There are only a few of us around the country. We’ve got work to do in our profession to continue to build the pipeline and ensure the deserving people have the opportunities to grow and to lead,” Said King. “One of the biggest reasons I am here today is to be a role model for little girls who look like me and to tell them ‘Dream big because your dreams can be achieved.’ But I’m a boy mom and my message is the same to little boys. To children of all races – aspire to achieve greatness, dream big, be passionate because with dedication and hard work anything is possible.”