‘Inside UVA’: From Sandlot Football to Athletics Director, Williams Talks Firsts With President Ryan

April 6, 2022 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’ with Director of Athletics Carla Williams(16:38)

Williams’ love of athletics stretches back to her girlhood days playing sandlot football.


Overseeing 750 student-athletes, 250 employees and 27 sports, Carla Williams, the director of athletics at the University of Virginia, runs the 12th-largest athletic department in the country.

Williams, who made history in 2017 when she became the first Black female athletic director at a Power Five conference school, is this week’s guest on “Inside UVA,” UVA President Jim Ryan’s podcast on all things UVA.

In the last few months alone, Williams has recruited a new football coach, Tony Elliott, and a new women’s basketball coach, Amaka Agugua-Hamilton.

Basketball was Williams’ sport in college. She was an all-Southeastern Conference guard during her time at the University of Georgia, where she was a three-year starter.

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But Williams traces her love of athletics back even further, telling Ryan in the podcast that she grew up playing sandlot football in her home state of Georgia as a young girl and “probably didn’t stop playing until I was in high school.”

“What position?” asked Ryan.

“Quarterback and wide receiver,” she responded.

Of her present duties as athletics director, Williams said, “It’s very meaningful because I get to set an example that I didn’t have when I was aspiring to be an athletic director.”

She added, “I got into this profession because I love student-athletes. And so, the time that I get to spend with student-athletes as a mentor, helping them with their career aspirations, or any issues that they may have on Grounds or in Charlottesville … I love working with student-athletes. So that’s a big part of my job as an athletic director, but that doesn’t mean it’s a part of every athletic director’s job.”

Learn more about Williams’ job and her guiding philosophy by tuning into this week’s episode of “Inside UVA,” which can be streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications