Kristene Kelly joined Vanderbilt in 2020 as deputy athletic director for internal affairs and serves on the department’s executive team.
Kelly serves as sport administrator for the women’s basketball, bowling, soccer and women’s tennis programs. She provides supervision of the department’s internal affairs units, including: sport performance, student services, compliance, psychological services, nutrition, strength and conditioning, athletic training, human resources and student-athlete development.
Kelly’s oversight responsibilities include various student-athlete resource areas, such as health and wellness, student services, and the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. Kelly serves as a liaison to several campus offices, including the Title IX Office and the Dean of Students.
Kelly has worked within each of the NCAA’s three divisions and boasts one of the most diverse resumes of any college administrator as one of the few – even perhaps the only – to hold throughout her career the titles of sports information director, associate athletic director, senior associate athletic director, executive associate athletic director, faculty athletics representative, senior woman administrator and athletic director.
Kelly began her career in collegiate athletics as an academic counselor and graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee in 2001. She began working toward her master’s degree at Tennessee in human performance and sport studies, completing her degree the following year while starting a job at her alma mater as the sports information director, a post she held for over six years.
Only the second female to be named the CIAA John Holley Sports Information Director of the Year in 2005, Kelly earned her doctoral degree of education in sport management from the United States Sports Academy in 2014.
Kelly is a very active committee member within the NCAA, with service on the NCAA Woman of the Year Committee and the NCAA Division II Track and Field Committee. She served as a member of the CIAA Management Council and as a committee member for numerous CIAA championships.
Kelly has completed multiple leadership development institutes, including the NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Women (2007) and the NCAA/NACWAA Executive Institute for Administrative Advancement (2010). A frequent guest speaker on a variety of topics centered around college athletics that include, “Best Practices for Improving Graduation Rates,” “Title IX” and “Work Life Balance,” Kelly has also been a presenter for the Black Women in Sport Foundation’s Next Step Women of Color Mini-Forum.
A 2000 graduate of Johnson C. Smith with bachelor’s degrees in physical education (sport management) and communication arts (public relations), Kelly earned all-rookie honors on the softball team before captaining the squad as a senior. In addition to serving as a sports information intern all four years, she was also a student trainer for the football team.
Kelly is an active member of the National Association for Collegiate Directors of Athletics, Women Leaders in College Sports, Minority Opportunities in Athletics Administration and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a board member of the Sexual Assault Center.