Joanna Pryor named new athletic director

Mar 07, 2019

After a national search, Joanna Pryor has been named director of athletics for Newman University, effective July 1, 2019.

Pryor, who has spent the past eight years as associate director of athletics and NCAA compliance coordinator at Newman, will take over department leadership duties after current director Vic Trilli retires at the end of the school year.

“I’m excited for this opportunity and excited to help our student athletes and coaches with this transition,” Pryor said. “I also look forward to helping in planning for each of the upcoming sports seasons so that our coaches can go into our new conference with confidence.”  

The Jets will leave the Heartland Conference at the end of the academic year and begin competing in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) as an associate member in 2019-20. Newman is the only private NCAA Division II program in Kansas and will be the only private university in the league.

“It presents a challenge, but a good challenge that I think we’re all ready to accept. The MIAA is one of the best conferences in Division II but we have a lot of teamwork. We have great coaches here at Newman and if we can work together we can be successful,” Pryor said.

Director of Athletics
Joanna Pryor

In addition to holding claim as the smallest school, based on enrollment, in the MIAA, Newman will be unique as the conference’s only athletic program headed by a woman. In fact, Pryor will join an elite group. As of July 2018, only 41 NCAA DII schools, 14 percent, have female athletic directors, according to Higher Education Publications Inc.

“It actually dawned on me this morning and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think that I might be the only female athletic director in the MIAA,’” Pryor said, “I’ve worked in sports since I was 22 years old, so I’m never shocked when I see a woman in a leadership position. … I think you get what you work for and it is exciting. It is kind of crazy to think about but I’m looking forward to it and I have a lot of support, from all sides.”

One of Pryor’s supporters is the man she will replace this summer.

“I’m really excited and happy for Jo. She has earned this chance. Over the past eight years, she has been an essential part of our administration team and has helped me tremendously and I look forward to the great places she will lead Jets athletics,” Trilli added. “I’m confident that people will recognize quickly the many skills and great leadership abilities she will bring to the role.”

Newman University President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., chaired the search committee and said Pryor was the unanimous choice of its members.   

“We interviewed three candidates from among the 85 applicants. In the search process, Joanna met with the committee, coaches, student athletes, booster club members and the cabinet plus took part in an open forum with faculty and staff. Every constituency with whom Joanna interviewed gave her nothing but positive comments and high ratings in all categories – communication skills, leadership, understanding of our mission, knowledge of our athletic department and the university, ability to form relationships and more,” Carrocci said.

“Having Joanna Pryor take the helm of the athletic department as we move to the MIAA next year gives me great confidence.  She is the right person, with the right skill set, to lead us into a promising future,” Carrocci added. 

Before moving to athletic administration duties, Pryor served as the head volleyball coach at Newman for two years. From 2001 to 2009, Pryor was head volleyball coach at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, where she finished with a 218-93 record. She led the Tigers to four National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament berths, finishing as high as second in the nation.

Pryor earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sport administration at Wichita State, and a Master of Science in Education at Newman. She is a member of the National Association for Athletics Compliance.

Pryor is married to Nathan Pryor and has three children – Calvin, Logan and Jordan.