Patricia Thomas was appointed Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of the District of Columbia in December of 2008, becoming the first female African American Athletic Director in the university’s history. According to a recent report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), less than nine percent of Athletic Directors at all member institutions are African American, and less than two percent are female African Americans.
As Athletic Director, Thomas oversees all operations in the Athletic Department for the Firebirds, specifically the university's 10 Division II teams which include: men's and women's basketball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s cross country, and men's and women's lacrosse. In July of 2011, Thomas guided the Firebirds into the East Coast Conference (ECC), the first ever conference affiliation for the University of the District of Columbia.
Thomas came to the University of the District of Columbia with over 30 years of experience in NCAA athletics. Prior to accepting the post at the University of the District of Columbia, Thomas served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Georgetown University and as a member of the NCAA Division I Management Council. At Georgetown, Thomas was responsible for providing direct support to student-athletes and served as the sport administrator for over fifteen sports programs during her tenure.
A well-respected member of the NCAA community, Thomas has been acknowledged nationally for her work in NCAA and Big East Athletics. In addition to her service on the DI Management Council, she has also served as a member of the NCAA Division I Championships and Competition Cabinet, Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport Committee, Big East Conference Executive Committee, Director’s Cup Committee, and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Executive Committee. In recognition of her experience and knowledge, Thomas was selected to serve one term on the NCAA Division II Management Council in 2010.
Since assuming the position at the University of the District of Columbia, Thomas has enhanced the Athletic Department's compliance component by hiring seasoned staff dedicated solely to overseeing this critical function, and she has established an academic enhancement component charged with supporting the student-athletes' academic success and welfare. She has also established an internal operations unit to address day-to-day operations in facilities management, improvements, and support staff functions. She created an external relations arm to engage corporate partners, connect with alumni and fans, and increase annual giving. In addition, she has formed a marketing and communications department to build the Firebird brand, foster community engagement, and interact with fans through game day promotions.
Thomas is also guiding the department’s strategic plan which addresses continued growth while achieving academic and athletic success. In addition to guiding the university into the ECC, Thomas has instituted several other key initiatives to enhance the student-athlete experience and grow the Firebird brand. She has significantly enhanced the physical appearance of the Sports Complex on campus, and enhancements of the facilities continue to be a major priority. In the summer of 2011, the Athletic Department launched Firebirds Forever, the first ever booster club for athletics. In February of 2012, the University of the District of Columbia hosted the Inaugural Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. During the 2011-2012 winter season, the athletic department introduced season ticket packages for basketball. Several new branding platforms were recently unveiled including: the Firebird Nation Sports Update television show, the Firebird Blog, and the Firebird Fan Podcast. Academics remain the number one priority, evidenced by the fact that the student-athlete population earned an average 3.0 GPA, with six student-athletes earning perfect 4.0 GPA’s in the Fall of 2011. Athletic progress and success is apparent as well with four of the university’s ten athletic teams (men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s Tennis) advancing to the NCAA Tournament in the 2011-2012 scholastic year. The Firebirds continue to make an impact in the community, with Youth Days, Think Pink events, and other community outreach initiatives planned for the future.