William & Mary’s new Athletics Director Samantha K. Huge (pronounced hyu-gee) — the first woman to hold this position since Tribe Athletics combined the men’s and women’s departments — shared her vision for the athletics department at William & Mary Weekend in New York City before an audience comprised of alumni, parents and friends.
“In the Competitive Excellence Report we talk about providing a championship experience for every student-athlete and fan,” says Huge, during a discussion moderated by Audra Lynn Mallow ’90, co-chair of the For the Bold campaign in the Western region. “Well, what does that mean? We want to make sure that we are making it really evident that we care about the folks who we engage with every day. We want to ensure that we are bringing them into our venues and they’re not only seeing great competition, but also having an experience that makes them want to return and invest in our continued success.”
Huge will be a member of the president’s senior leadership cabinet and will be responsible for more than 120 Tribe Athletics staff members and coaches. She will manage the organization’s $24 million budget, serve as its primary fundraiser and oversee the continued implementation of the department’s strategic plan.
One of Huge’s goals in her new role is to ensure that there are more endowed scholarships available for student-athletes.
“I want to make sure that we are in a position to provide not only support for our world-class academics but that we can recruit student-athletes to William & Mary by being able to fully pay for that experience,” Huge says.
During her first weeks at the university, Huge sought feedback from her staff. She said she noticed a recurring theme: fear of talking about winning.
“I think the sense is that if we talk too much about winning, somehow we’re saying that academics isn’t as important,” Huge says. “We are going to unapologetically pursue excellence across the board and that means we are going to talk about winning when we win. We’re going to push for winning, and we’re going to win in the classroom, win in competition and we’re going to win in life.”
Huge had a connection to William & Mary long before she accepted her new position. She would come to campus to watch her brother, Chris Huge ’84, play Tribe football.
“William & Mary has always had a special place in my heart,” Huge says. “One thing that amazes me is the quality of the people we have, not only in students and student-athletes, but the staff and faculty who support the great mission of the university. William & Mary truly strikes the appropriate balance between competitive athletics, world-class academics and preparing young women and men to go out and live great lives of impact. That’s frankly why I was attracted to this position.”
Huge has 17 years of Division I athletics administration experience. Prior to coming to William & Mary she was the senior associate director of athletics at Texas A&M University.
She has worked in various roles with the athletic departments at Georgetown University, Wake Forest University, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois, as well as with the Office of the Southern Conference.
In a video of Huge taken shortly after the university announced her appointment, she said she didn’t plan on becoming an athletic director. It was a former coach who challenged her to think of herself in this leadership role.
“He looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘Samantha, do you ever think that perhaps you’re robbing an athletic department of your brand of leadership? I want you to think about that.’ For me, that got the wheels turning,” Huge says.
After Huge worked as an interim athletic director at another university, she says she recognized the impact of her current position.
“Just having the opportunity to lead an incredible group of Tribe student-athletes, staff and coaches is humbling and I look forward to this exciting challenge.”