Sandy Barbour recognized on Sports Illustrated’s list of the most powerful women in sports

Oct 23, 2020 | 2020-2021, Division I, Featured Stories, News

Photo credit: Mark Selders, Penn State Athletics

BROCKPORT, N.Y. — Former field hockey coach and current Penn State University athletic director, Sandy Barbour, was recognized on Sport Illustrated’s list of the most powerful, most influential, and most outstanding women in sports right now.

The Unrelenting highlighted women who are acknowledged as “game-changers who are speaking out, setting the bar and making a difference” by Sports Illustrated. Barbour was listed alongside Jennifer Cohen of the University of Washington, Heather Lyke from the University of Pittsburgh, Carla Williams of University of Virginia, and Candice Storey Lee from Vanderbilt University, as the only five female athletic directors at Power 5 schools.

According to Sports Illustrated, “Although the percentage of female athletic directors has increased from 19 [percent] in 2009 to 24 [percent] in 2019, according to an annual report from Women Leaders in College Sports, most hires have come at the Division II and III levels, leaving this small group to represent women at the top ranks of college sports.”

Barbour, who was a field hockey student-athlete at Wake Forest University and an assistant field hockey coach at the University of Massachusetts and Northwestern University, has been recognized as one of the nation’s premier athletic directors. She is currently in her sixth year as the leader of Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, which boasts an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 90 percent and supports 31 sports. Under her direction, Penn State has earned six NCAA National Championships and 29 Big Ten Conference titles.

Prior to her move to Happy Valley, Barbour was the athletic director for ten years at the University of California, Berkeley — there she led the athletic department to 20 team national championships, 97 individual national titles, and a top-ten finish in the Learfield Director’s Cup six times. Before Cal, Barbour served in administration at Notre Dame, Tulane, and Northwestern.