Margaret McKinley was announced as one of three final candidates for the position of Kent State Director of Athletics Wednesday and delivered her virtual candidate presentation Thursday morning. A native of Cuyahoga Falls and Northeast Ohio, McKinley is no stranger to the world of collegiate athletics.
McKinley is the current executive senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator at the University of Cincinnati. She has spent 20 years serving in various roles at the university and ran track and field during her college years there.
“For years, I have had Kent State as a destination,” McKinley said. “And when the chair opened and this opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate.”
In her presentation, McKinley discussed what she believes are the three main points to focus on for the future of intercollegiate athletics: student-athlete well-being, student-athlete “Name, Image, Likeness” and modernization and sustainability.
She said there are five general pillars to consider when accounting for student-athlete well-being: academics, leadership and development, mental health, physical health and student-athlete activism, or what she calls “the student-athlete voice.”
“Any time that you will hear me talk, a student athlete will be the front of the conversation,” she said. “They are the driver of why we make decisions because we’re here to serve our student athletes and prepare them for life after collegiate athletics, and their well-being must be at the center of all decisions.”
Whether collegiate student-athletes should benefit from their likeness in brand deals, endorsements and promotions is another aspect of student-athlete well-being McKinley discussed. She said she believes student-athletes should benefit from the use of their name, image, likeness.
Moving forward, McKinley also believes “modernization is key” for student athletics.
Through legislative proposals with the NCAA and state and federal governments, she said student-athletes and collegiate institutions will be able to maximize opportunities for engagement with the campus and local communities. Previously, McKinley worked with her governmental relations staff to provide input and feedback for Congressman Anthony Gonzalez’s name, image, likeness bill.
As part of the organization Women Leaders in Collegiate Sports, McKinley said gender equity “will always be at the forefront.” She said her plans would involve conducting a gender equity review annually as opposed to once every four years.
“When any decisions are made, we got to make sure we have all the right people around the table,” McKinley said. “So if we need a bigger table and get more chairs, we’re going to get a bigger table. And we’re going to get more chairs. Because we need to have people around the table who have diversity of experience and diversity of thought.”
McKinley hopes that if she is selected for the position, she can serve as a familiar and recognizable face amid the Kent community.
“What I see moving forward is that the Kent State community will be engaged with me, will be engaged with my staff, you will see me at every event, you’ll have opportunities to sit down and have coffee with me, you’ll see me out dining and [in] the Kent community,” McKinley said. “And we are going to continue to build this. I believe that Kent State can be a national brand because successful student-athletes go on to professional careers.”
Candidate presentations will carry into next week. Jude A. Killy will deliver a virtual presentation Monday, April 5 from 11:15 a.m. to noon, and Randale L. Richmond will deliver a virtual presentation Tuesday, April 6 from 11:15 a.m. to noon.
Emma Andrus covers administration. Contact her at [email protected]