HBCU Edward Waters University names first female athletic director

"I think the time is now for HBCUs, and so we have to capitalize on that," said Ivana Rich.

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Ivana Rich has been tapped by Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Florida to serve as its new executive vice president and athletic director. 

Rich is the first woman to hold the title of athletic director in the HBCU’s 156-year history, the Florida Times-Union reports. She succeeds Paul Bryant, who worked in the position for three years before leaving in August. 

Rich said in a statement that she is “excited to be in the position” as EWU’s first female AD, “and be an example for other aspiring female athletic administrators and head coaches, because we need more of them. “I think the time is now for HBCUs, and so we have to capitalize on that.

Edward Waters University Athletic Director Ivana Rich speaks during her introduction on Oct. 25, 2022.( Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union/ USA TODAY NETWORK)

Continued Rich, “I’m especially out in the community, really telling the story of HBCUs and the story of Edward Waters University, so our community is well ingrained and well involved in what we’re doing here. We want to be a part of the community and we want them to be a part of what we’re doing here as well.”

Before joining Edwards Waters, Rich spent seven years at Norfolk State University working in various capacities such as acting director of athletics, associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator, the Times-Union reported.

“She connected with our student-athletes in an extraordinary way,” said Edward Waters University President A. Zachary Faison Jr. “To a person, the groups of student-athletes that she met with said, ‘She cares about us and she’s someone who we believe will support our success.’ Not just on the playing field, but also in the classroom and just in their overall personal development,” he said. “That, really, was the clincher.” 

Faison noted that bringing Rich onboard — whom he described as a “rising star in athletic administration” — would not hamper the university’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. 

“We’ve put the resources in place, the structures in place, the people in place and the processes in place,” Faison said. “So now it’s a well-oiled machine … Dr. Rich is going to step in and just continue the progress.”

Rich played Division I college volleyball at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2006-09. She coached volleyball at Virginia State from 2011 to 2013. The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 2013 named her coach of the year.

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