news-category: Athletics

GWU Alumna Sherika A. Montgomery Named Commissioner of The Big South Conference

Former GWU Basketball Player Has Administrative Experience in Big South and NCAA

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Big South Conference has named Sherika A. Montgomery, a two-time Gardner-Webb University alumna, as its new commissioner following a national search. Montgomery, who played basketball at GWU and served as a Big South staff member from 2010-17, becomes the fourth commissioner in the history of the Big South. She officially begins her duties on May 15. She replaces Kyle Kallander, currently the second-longest tenured NCAA Division I multisport conference commissioner. He is retiring after 27 years and will be inducted into the Big South Conference Hall of Fame on June 1.

“Having served on the search committee and as a member of the group of Big South Conference CEOs that selected our new commissioner, I can confirm that Sherika Montgomery rose to the top of an outstanding pool of candidates,” shared GWU President Dr. William M. Downs. “She brings energy, vision, and significant experience to this leadership position at a critical time for college athletics. I am confident that she is the right person at the right time for our conference, and I am eager to see our competitiveness and our brand strengthen in the years ahead.”

Sherika Montgomery was part of the 2010 Big South Conference regular season championship squad that posted a 28-5 record.

Montgomery comes to the Big South from the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), where she was appointed deputy commissioner this past year. She joined the MVC staff in the summer of 2021 as associate commissioner and senior woman administrator. During her time at the Valley, Montgomery has been responsible for the organizational leadership of conference operations, including administrative oversight of the conference’s governance structure, facilitation of constituency communication, execution of future strategic initiatives and the primary sport administrator for basketball. In her current role, she serves as liaison to the conference’s chief executive officers and directors of Athletics, with additional areas of leadership responsibilities within NCAA national matters, student-athlete experience enhancements, and conference diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

“Announcing the Big South’s next commissioner is something that hasn’t happened in nearly 30 years, yet here we are,” stated Dondi Costin, Big South Conference president and president of Charleston Southern University. “We have found the perfect candidate in Sherika Montgomery. Her meteoric rise from Big South student-athlete to Big South Commissioner offers the clearest possible evidence that the Big South Conference is in fact ‘Where Winners Are Made.’”

Montgomery earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management with a minor in recreation in 2009 and her master’s in sport science/pedagogy in 2011 from Gardner-Webb. While playing with the Runnin’ Bulldogs, Montgomery was part of the 2010 Big South Conference regular season championship squad that posted a 28-5 record. She played in 85 career games at Gardner-Webb and made 19 starts in the post.

“I would like to extend my immense gratitude to the Big South Conference chief executive officers and search committee for entrusting me with this tremendous opportunity,” Montgomery affirmed. “I am absolutely honored and humbled to have been chosen to lead the next generation of Big South leaders. As a former Big South student-athlete, I was fortunate to be led by consummate administrators, championed by supreme coaches—on and off the court—and surrounded by fellow fervent student-athletes committed to excellence. In reacquainting myself with the mission of the conference, I am yet again reminded of the immense opportunity to serve and ensure the Big South continues to be ‘Where Winners Are Made’ for years to come. I am especially grateful for Commissioner Kallander, his visionary leadership and invaluable mentorship. I look forward to returning to the Big South and joining industry leaders in creating meaningful intercollegiate athletics opportunities focused on optimal student-athlete experiences personally, academically and athletically.”

Montgomery brings extensive experience that spans a dozen years. Prior to arriving at the Missouri Valley Conference, Montgomery served as assistant director of enforcement (Investigations and Processing) at the NCAA. In her role at the national office, she was responsible for thoroughly and timely investigating and processing potential violations of NCAA legislation involving all three NCAA divisions and all sports. This included compiling and evaluating evidence of infractions, drafting necessary submissions, and presenting information and evidence to the NCAA Committee on Infractions. In addition to her enforcement responsibilities, Montgomery served as liaison to the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group, which provided an amplifying voice for the sport of women’s basketball on key initiatives, legislation and various issues. Montgomery also served as chair of the NCAA People of Color Employee Engagement Group and was a member of the Women’s Employee Engagement Group’s Leadership Council. 

“What a great day for the Big South!” commented Kallander. “Sherika Montgomery is an amazing talent and will be outstanding in leading the conference into the future. She has tremendous people skills, wonderful insight and integrity, and has the intangibles that are often overlooked in great leaders. She just gets it. Plus, to have an alum of the Big South return to take the reins is truly special. On a personal note, I am so proud of Sherika. We could tell when we initially hired her to join the conference staff that she was a shooting star and would rapidly rise to the top. It is no surprise to me that she is now the fourth commissioner of the Big South Conference!”

Montgomery was at the Summit League from 2018-19, serving as associate commissioner for Governance and Compliance. She also served as associate athletic director for Student Success at Big South member institution Winthrop University from 2017-18. Prior to her stint at Winthrop, Montgomery spent seven years as a member of the Big South Conference staff. She started in 2010 as a compliance and administrative assistant before being promoted to assistant director of Compliance in 2011. Montgomery was elevated to director of Compliance & Administration in 2013, and spent her final three years as assistant commissioner for Compliance and senior woman administrator.

While at the Big South, Montgomery served as a two-time chair (2016-2018) of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics during her service from 2014-2018, and was also a member of the inaugural NCAA Board of Governors Ad Hoc Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity. She was named to the Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond list by Diverse Education in 2016.  

Away from the office, Montgomery is currently a cohort member of the 2022-23 NCAA Pathway Program, a yearlong initiative designed to prepare senior-level athletics administrators for the next career step as directors of athletics or conference commissioners.

Former Big South Commissioners

Dr. Edward M. Singleton—1983-89

George F. “Buddy” Sasser—1989-96

Kyle B. Kallander—1996-2023

About the Big South Conference

Founded in 1983 and approaching its 40th anniversary in 2023-24, the Big South Conference has been an exemplary leader in college athletics, dedicated to developing student-athletes through the pursuit of excellence in the classroom, community and field of play. The league’s growing presence as an NCAA Division I athletic conference is made evident by its multitude of athletic accomplishments, innovative marketing and media partnerships, increased television packages and most importantly, its commitment to fostering the academic, personal, social, athletic and leadership development of its student-athletes. Comprised of 10 member institutions sharing a common geographic region and similar academic values and purposes, the Big South’s remarkable history of achievement is characterized by the league’s 19 championship sports and the profound academic and life successes of its more than 3,800 student-athletes.

About Gardner-Webb

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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