by Eddie Francis, Examiner
The Gulf Coast Athletics Conference (GCAC) elected Kiki Baker Barnes their 17th president at the 2009 fall meetings, held on Dillard’s campus October 5th and 6th. She is the first African-American woman to hold the position. Barnes is Dillard University’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and also serves as head basketball coach of the Lady Bleu Devils.
Barnes was unanimously voted in during Tuesday’s general session after being nominated by Dillard Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Nazar Mustapha. She replaces Steve Knight, head men’s basketball coach at William Carey University, who has served as GCAC president since 2001.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers and given their vote of confidence as we move forward in the GCAC,” says Barnes. “With the recent departure of five of our teams, we must respond quickly to ensure the future of the GCAC as a conference to be reckoned with.”
It was recently reported that Belhaven College, Loyola University New Orleans, the University of Mobile, Spring Hill College and William Carey will be leaving the GCAC to join the Southern States Athletic Conference, a member of National Assocation of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Barnes says that now is a critical time in the history of the conference as it attempts to draw new members and build new rivalries, and she looks forward to the challenge.
Barnes is in her fourth year at the helm of Dillard’s athletics program. Since taking over athletics, she has established the university’s first comprehensive athletics website, overseen the addition of three sports (cross country, track and field, and softball), led the department’s first marketing and branding campaign, and assisted with the creation of a new logo. She is also one of only two African-Americans named to the NAIA’s newly formed National Administrative Council and a member of the Black Coaches and Administrators professional organization.
Barnes was a standout basketball player and track athlete at the University of New Orleans, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. She also played for and earned an associate’s degree from South Plains College. Barnes received her master’s from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree from UNO. A native of Minden, Louisiana, she is married to Marc Barnes, Sr., with two children, Caitlin and Marc, Jr.