DURHAM, NC — Duke University promoted Tampa-native Nina King to athletic director in mid-May. King, a Gaither high school grad, has worked in the department since 2008. She's the sixth female, and the third woman of color to lead a Power 5 department. Now she wants to use her role as a way to inspire other women and minorities to follow her lead.
"I hope that little girls and boys who look like me can aspire big, dream big, and realize their dreams at some point in their careers," King said via video chat. "Representation matters. They need to see that folks that look like them lead the department.
King said it's important that people aren't hired because they're women and/or minorities. The only way to set people up for success is to hire them because they're qualified.
"I don’t want to be a token anything. I worked hard. I got an accounting degree. I got a law degree. I’ve spent my career in sport," King said. "I just happen to be a woman and a person of color."
King's already had a busy summer. Aside from the Blue Devils' postseason tournaments, men's head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski announced that he's retiring after the upcoming season.
"I probably shouldn’t say my reaction on TV," King joked. "He earned the right to tell us when he was ready to step away. But this year, it’s gonna be great. We’re going to be able to celebrate Coach K and his legacy, and everything he’s done for not just Duke University, but for college basketball and for sport in our world."
King, 42, is still a big Buccaneers fan. She said it was nice to see former Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell earn a Super Bowl ring with her hometown team. She also cheers on the Lightning, who are owned by Jeff Vinik- a Duke alum.