news-category: National Interest

Webb Connections Informative Series Returns to Gardner-Webb on Sept. 23

Bulldog football

Hosted by President Dr. William M. Downs, Topic of First Event is Future of College Athletics

Dr. Downs
GWU President Dr. William M. Downs

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Supreme Court ruled in June that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cannot limit education-related benefits offered to student-athletes. How will this ruling impact college sports? Local and regional experts representing Gardner-Webb University, the Big South and media, will discuss possible outcomes of the court’s decision during the first Webb Connections program of the Fall 2021 Semester.

Hosted by Gardner-Webb University President Dr. William M. Downs, the discussion—“The Supreme Court, the NCAA and the Future for College Athletics”—will be held Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in Stewart Hall of Tucker Student Center. The program is open to the public.

The panelists include:

  • Kyle Kallander, Big South Commissioner—In his 26th year as Big South Conference Commissioner, Kallander has seen year-to-year growth in marketing and television, an enhanced digital presence as well as unparalleled success on the field and in the classroom. He also saw a Big South-record 13 student-athletes achieve Academic All-America status in 2003-04 and 2013-14. He led the creation of the Big South Academic Consortium of Big South Chief Academic Officers and Faculty Athletics Representatives to develop shared academic programs and resources among member institutions.
  • Kelli Bartik, Sports Anchor, WCCB Charlotte and a GW alumna—Bartik brings the latest from the world of sports throughout the week on WCCB TV News at 10 and co-hosts Got Game with Brandon Davidow on Sunday nights at 10:30. She joined the WCCB Charlotte team in October 2003 as a news reporter, but quickly made her way to the sports department. She graduated from Gardner-Webb with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a Spanish minor.
  • Alex Simmons, Head Coach, GW Women’s Basketball—Simmons enters her fourth season as the head coach of the Gardner-Webb women’s basketball program in 2021-22. She led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 18-11 overall record and 13-7 in Big South Conference play in 2019-20, finishing fifth in the league standings. Gardner-Webb was Simmons first head coaching job after assistant coaching stints at Ole Miss (2013-2018) and Middle Tennessee State (2010-2013). Simmons played for legendary University of Tennessee Coach Pat Summit, winning two NCAA championships (2007, 2008) in three Final Four appearances.
  • Jim Chester, Head Coach, GW Baseball—Chester is in his second year as the head coach of the Gardner-Webb baseball team after taking over the program in June 2019. In 2020, Chester led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 8-8 record before the season was halted due to COVID-19. In 2020, Chester led the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 8-8 record in his first COVID-shortened season, following up that debut in 2021 with a strong 29-23 campaign (27-13 in Big South) and earning Co-Coach of the Year honors in the conference.  In his second season, Chester mentored star pitcher Mason Miller, an eventual third-round pick by the MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
  • Anna Marie Fish, GW Soccer player and president of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)—A native of Lillington, N.C., Fish graduated from Wake Christian Academy. She is a biology major with a minor in Spanish. She also serves as a senior class senator in the Student Government Association. Fish started in the eight games played in spring 2021 and logged a total of 737 minutes on the pitch.
Steve Serck
Steve Serck
  • Steve Serck, Gardner-Webb University Counsel—Serck came Gardner-Webb from East Carolina University (Greenville, North Carolina) where he provided direction on state and federal laws and training in all aspects of faculty, staff and employment issues. Gardner-Webb’s first in-house legal counsel, Serck holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Northern Iowa, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 48 hours prior to the event. Please call 704-406-2155 or email [email protected] with your request.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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