Thursday, January 28, 2021



2. Kiki Jacobs

This week's D3Playbook Interview features Kiki Jacobs, director of athletics at Roger Williams (R.I.) University and chair of the NCAA Division III Championships Committee.

What inspired you to coach after college?  

Well, I was an economics and political science double major in college (Dickinson) who happened to be a decent swimmer. I didn’t really look very hard for a job, much to the chagrin of the parents. The women’s basketball coach at Dickinson said a friend of hers was looking for an assistant swimming coach for a year. I took it sight unseen for $4,000 per year.  That job got me in the door. Mike Walsh hired me at Washington and Lee. He had been at Dartmouth and got my name from them. 
After coaching at Dartmouth and Washington and Lee, you transitioned into administration - working at Oberlin, Springfield and now, Roger Williams. Was this part of the original career plan?  

Once I got into athletics, I knew I didn’t want to coach forever.  At about year 10 at W&L, I got the itch to get off the pool deck. I started helping with some administrative tasks and that gave the itch to get into administration. My goal at that time was to become an associate AD. Never thought I wanted to ‘sit in the big chair’. I was lucky to move from coaching to an associate’s role at Oberlin. Joe Karlgaard took a chance on me. Being an AD was never in the career plan.  Others had to convince me to start applying to AD jobs. I am glad others saw the potential that I didn’t see. 
What were the biggest challenges going from coach to administrator?  

My biggest challenge was balancing all of the needs of the sports. I was used to dealing with just the swim team. Learning all of the nuisances of the other sports was a learning curve.  I also struggled with ‘work life balance’ (whatever that means). I was attending all home events.  I thought I had to be present for everything, and for the entire event. It was an impossible schedule to keep up after the first year
How do you motivate a coaching staff and students to go forward during a pandemic when they don't know whether a season will be played or not?   

Tough question!  We (Athletics) are the primary COVID testers on campus. We are testing everyone on campus (approximately 4000) twice per week. I am coordinating and overseeing the effort. The Department has been great, but they are tired. We are still doing practices, meeting with student-athletes and recruiting. It is taking its toll. As for motivation, the staff has struggled like everyone else. I actually think this pandemic has brought us closer as a department, even though it is not the way we wanted it to go. Everyone is pitching in when help is needed. Picking each other up, when someone is down. 
You serve as chair of the Division III Championships Committee. What will the committee be looking at during its upcoming meeting?  

Upcoming meeting is Friday, 1/29 (another meeting Feb 2). On Friday, we will be looking at the Declaration forms that we returned. This meeting will focus on determining the fate of winter Championships. We have been meeting every two weeks (or more) since June. 
Talk about the decision to cancel fall championships.  

Tough one! We were reluctant but knew it had to be done.
DIII might have to make a decision on winter NCAA championships before the other divisions. Does that add more pressure to the committee?  

As a committee, we have looked at the other Divisions, but haven’t let that drive our decision. We need to do the right thing. Sending out the survey and declaration will help us make this decision. The Committee has done a great job making some difficult decisions. 
Favorite M*A*S*H episode?  

How did you know this is my all-time favorite show?? Season 8, Episode 10 - The Yalu Brick Road:
You attended Dickinson (Pa.) College has an undergrad. Who was the Red Devils' biggest rival?  

Gettysburg, of course. We beat them in a dual meet my junior year! 

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