Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Carolyn Stone has been named one of four NCAA Division II Athletic Directors of the Year, an award given by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and sponsored by Under Armour.
“The nation recognizes your unique leadership,” said President William M. B. Fleming, Jr. “The Sailfish brand is now known coast to coast. We are winning in the classroom; we are winning on the field and we are building Christian game changers, which is most important.”
Stone took on the role of Athletic Director at PBA in January 2012. She led the University’s transition from an independent to the Sunshine State Conference, first as a provisional member culminating with full membership in August 2017. During the same time period, she was actively involved in the construction of the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus, which is home to 15 of the school's 18 varsity athletic programs. The 76-acre property located just over a mile from PBA's main campus also serves the general student body with shared space for intramurals.
She also was instrumental in the build of the John & Sheila Rinker Sports Center, the $9 million facility that serves as the centerpiece to the Rinker Athletic Campus, offering locker rooms, athletic training facilities, strength and conditioning room, conference room, team meeting room, staff offices and a hospitality area.
“Carolyn, what a great honor this is for you individual and also for the university,” said Scott Whitaker, chair of the board of trustees athletic committee. “This is a proud moment for PBA. On behalf of the athletic committee, we are grateful for your service and we are proud of the spirit in which you lead the athletic department — the spirt of servant leadership displayed in your job and that everyone in the athletic department can follow.”
In addition to opening new physical facilities, Stone has been responsible for adding a number of varsity sports programs including men's and women's golf, men's and women's track, men's and women's lacrosse, as well as the revitalization of men's cross country. The latest addition, beach volleyball, begins varsity play in the spring of 2020. Palm Beach Atlantic is now represented by 18 programs with some 300 student-athletes, more than double the number of athletes from when Stone joined the department.
She also initiate the use of the tag line, “Developing Christian Game Changers,” to express the University’s commitment to supporting student athletes to excel in the classroom and on the competition field as well as dedicating their lives to Christ.
The Sailfish have had 34 all-Americans during Stone’s tenure as well as sending four programs (men's soccer, men's tennis, softball and volleyball) to the NCAA South Region Tournament a total of 13 times. The Sailfish claimed their first NCAA South Region Championship under Stone’s watch as both the men’s soccer and volleyball teams accomplished the feat in 2015. Volleyball followed up in 2016 with their second straight title. The volleyball team was also the first to compete on the biggest stage in Division II, playing in the 2015 National Championship Match.
In their first year in the Sunshine State Conference the Sailfish took home the men's soccer and softball titles. Men’s soccer added their second straight SSC title in 2018 and also were crowned SSC Tournament Champions as well.
“I am very humbled by this award, which not have been possible without the Rinkers and the University believing that athletics was a necessary component of Palm Beach Atlantic’s growth,” Stone said. “What an incredible story it is to be a Christ-first university in the current climate of intercollegiate athletics and to be selected for this recognition.
“The whole mission and vision is graduating and getting these students to be the type of God-centered leaders we need desperately in our world,” she continued. “There is no greater purpose.”
The Athletic Directors of the Year Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities. A complete listing of Selection Committee members can be found on NACDA's website at www.nacda.com.
Photo: President Fleming congratulations Carolyn Stone along with, pictured top row from left, T.J. Budd, John Rinker, Jim Jenkins, Courtney Lovely, GoEun Lee and Mike Stevens.