Sterling Steward to Serve as UAF Athletic Director
JR Ancheta | UAF
Veteran athletics administrator Sterling Steward has been chosen as the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ new director of intercollegiate athletics. Steward replaces Gary Gray, who resigned as head of the Alaska Nanooks in December.
Steward comes to the Nanooks after serving the past seven years as the director of athletics at Savannah State University, an NCAA Division I program in Georgia. Steward will start his new position at UAF on October 8.
“It is my honor and privilege to be selected as the next director of athletics for UAF,” Steward said. “I pledge to Nanook nation that I will bring all of the athletic experience and knowledge that I have gained over the past 20-plus years in hopes of continuing the development of student-athletes while simultaneously winning championships. I am excited to begin a new chapter in my life, as well as my career.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Keith Champagne praised Steward’s ethics, experience and commitment to the welfare of student-athletes. Steward’s leadership, passion and vision will provide the foundation required for a successful 21st century athletic program, he said.
“My responsibility was to appoint an athletics director who will be the best fit for UAF,” Champagne said. “I’ll be a strong and collaborative partner with Mr. Steward in the years ahead to realize the high expectations we all share for Nanooks athletics.”
Steward was chosen from a nationwide pool of applicants and was among four finalists who visited the UAF campus this summer. Steward earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human performance and recreation at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Steward was responsible for all matters related to managing Savannah State University’s sports programs for men and women, including fundraising, marketing, corporate sponsorships, budgeting, NCAA compliance and working with local communities. While at SSU, the Tigers won seven conference championships, including one in golf, four in individual track and field, two in men’s basketball, one in softball, one in tennis and one in women’s basketball. Additionally, the SSU cheerleading squad won the national championship in 2017.
Steward was instrumental in revenue generation at Savannah State and operated a self-sufficient athletic department for the past seven years. Furthermore, he increased endowed scholarships 25 percent and developed a program for student-athletes that generated aid for summer school and fifth-year eligibility.
Prior to working at SSU, Steward worked in the athletics departments at Mississippi Valley State University, Alabama State University, Kentucky State University, Eastern Oregon University and Xavier University.
UAF is an NCAA Division II institution that sponsors 10 varsity sports. Men’s and women’s cross-country running, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball all compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Men’s ice hockey is the only Division I sport and competes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Women’s swimming, men’s and women’s skiing and coed rifle all compete at a multidivisional level through the Pacific Collegiate Swimming and Diving Conference, the Central Collegiate Ski Association and the Patriot Rifle Conference, respectively.