Nina King named new Duke athletic director

She will replace Kevin White when he retires Sept. 1

Nina King, Duke's next athletic director. (Photo courtesy of Duke Athletics)

Duke didn’t have to look far to replace athletic director Kevin White. The Blue Devils announced they would be promoting senior deputy director of athletics Nina King to be the next vice president and director of athletics.

King was in charge of administration and legal affairs, and was chief of staff.

White, who has been Duke’s AD for the last 13 years, will step down on Sept. 1.

“I am thrilled that Nina will be our Vice President and Director of Athletics,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “In her time at Duke, Nina has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, earning the esteem of our coaches, student-athletes, athletics staff and colleagues in athletics departments across the country. Nina is recognized as a committed advocate for inclusive excellence in collegiate athletics, and she has represented Duke on committees of the NCAA, ACC and many other national organizations. I can imagine no better person to carry on Kevin White’s exceptional record at Duke.”

“First, I am extremely grateful to President Price for providing me with this incredible opportunity to lead the very best athletics department in the country,” said King. “Additionally, I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to Rick Wagoner, Valerie Ashby and the search committee for their belief in me and generous support. I am deeply committed to continuing the strong tradition of academic and athletic excellence at our world-class institution. My priority will be to ensure that the experience is truly elite for our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the entire Duke family. This is a tremendous honor, and I look forward to ushering Duke Athletics into the next chapter.”

King was selected after a national search.

“We set out on a national search to find the best possible leader, someone with the experience, intellect and vision to meet the challenges of the future and a sharp understanding of our commitment to excellence in academics and competition,” said G. Richard Wagoner, a trustees emeritus who chaired the search committee. “The committee was enthusiastic about Nina’s candidacy, and I could not be more excited to see her at the helm of Duke Athletics.”

Among Power 5 institutions, King joins Vanderbilt’s Candice Storey Lee and Virginia’s Carla Williams as black female directors of athletics. She is the first woman to hold the position at Duke.

“I am excited to work with Nina in this new role,” added Valerie Ashby, dean of Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, who served as vice chair of the search committee. “Her commitment to the academic and life success of our student-athletes is inspiring. She is a teacher and a mentor who will only advance Duke’s culture of intellectual rigor and integrity.”

What they are saying about Nina King

“This is truly a magical moment within the life of Duke Athletics. Nina King is indeed the absolute perfect choice to lead this storied program. Nina, unequivocally, possesses all the intellectual and relationship skills, coupled with inordinate subject knowledge, which, in my humble view, represents a very serious leadership ‘upgrade!’ To be sure, I could not possibly be more excited for both Duke University and the amazing King family.”

— Duke Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White

“This hire is an important step for the continuity of the outstanding culture that exists within Duke Athletics. Serving as one of Kevin White’s most trusted advisors for his entire time at Duke, Nina King has served our University well in whatever roles have been assigned to her. She has represented the Duke Department of Athletics with distinction both internally and externally, including many roles on the national stage. That national presence is important in our school’s leadership position in an ever-changing college sports environment. Personally, I have enjoyed working with Nina and look forward to working with her even more in the future.”

— Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski

“I am thrilled for Nina and her family. She has prepared for this opportunity her entire professional life, learning from the best of all time in Dr. (Kevin) White. Nina understands what it takes to build a great program on the coaching and playing side of athletics while possessing the unique ability to sit at the business, academic and legal tables comfortably. Without question, Nina will champion the core mission of Duke University while lifting the student-athletes to a new level of excellence. Duke Football is excited to move forward!”

 — Duke football coach David Cutcliffe

“This is a historic hire for Duke University. Congratulations to Nina; she is a star! She leads with intelligence, competitiveness and compassion. I am excited to work together with her. The future is bright for our department because I know we have the right person to represent us in every way. One of the main reasons I chose to come to Duke was because of the diversity that exists at every level. This is a powerful statement by President Price and our Board of Trustees. Go Duke!”

— Duke women’s basketball coach Kara Lawson

“I am absolutely beyond excited for Nina. Any time a woman breaks the glass ceiling, it is a phenomenal thing. Nina is an incredible human. She’s a mother, she’s so dedicated to her job, she’s a relentless pioneer and such a beacon of hope and inspiration for so many of us in college athletics every day. In essence, she embodies everything we strive for. Growing up in an Olympic sport, we train hours and hours for one minute of work on the big stage, and she represents why we fight so hard for that one minute. I’m so in debt for what she brings to Duke, but so inspired by what she brings to college athletics. She’s the face of the future in athletics and we’re lucky to call her a Blue Devil. Duke could not have done this any better. I’m so happy for Nina and her family and can’t wait for her to get started.”

— Duke rowing coach Megan Cooke Carcagno

“What a great day for Duke. Nina King is, without question, the right person to be Duke University’s next Director of Athletics. Simply put, she is uniquely qualified to lead this department into the next era of athletics success. I look forward to working with Nina and her staff as she builds upon the tremendous legacy of professionalism and excellence that defined Dr. White’s time at Duke. On a personal level, I am just absolutely thrilled for Nina, Rick and the boys. I am grateful to the members of the search committee for all of their hard work; they got it right!”

— Duke baseball coach Chris Pollard

“Nina King is a terrific choice, and congratulations to Duke on an outstanding hire. Nina is a person of tremendous integrity with quality experiences and insight that will serve Duke, its student-athletes, coaches, alumni and fans extremely well. We look forward to having her join the exceptional team of ACC Athletics Directors, and will continue to benefit from her servant leadership.”

— ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips