After almost 28 years as N.C. Central University’s athletic director Ingrid Wicker-McCree announced earlier this school year that she will be stepping down after this semester.
Wicker-McCree received her introduction to sports at a young age. She played basketball, volleyball and track as an adolescent before taking her talents to the collegiate level at George Washington University. Unbeknownst to her, Wicker-McCree would hone more skills off the court.
Wicker-McCree got her introduction to athletic administration at her beloved alma mater.
“I worked in the Smith Center, which was our arena. I worked at the front desk checking ids for patrons coming in, the equipment desk, and gymnastics meets in terms of operations and behind the scenes,” she said.
Wicker-McCree was offered a volleyball coaching position by Judy Martino at N.C. State University where she worked as a graduate assistant. She later found a new home at NCCU in 1994 where she coached volleyball in addition to working as athletic director.
Wicker-McCree was one of few Black women to hold this high of a position in athletic administration. As a woman of color she faced a number of challenges.
But Wicker-Mcree is no stranger to challenges. She says she was taught at an early age to put in the work to get the things she’d wanted out of life.
“My mom and my dad always told me that as a Black woman you are going to have to work harder, you are going to have to be more resourceful at all times.”
Wicker-McCree was able to accomplish a lot during years at NCCU because of her work ethic. Her accomplishments include winning multiple volleyball championships in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, bringing the athletics program to the Division I status, and, of course mentoring student athletes, far too many to count.
“Dr. Wicker-McCree sparked a lot in me personally. As a student athlete, there was not anything I would not come and talk to her about,” said former volleyball player Ariel Germain.
Germain is now NCCU’s Director of Marketing and Communications for Student Affairs. She said that Wicker-McCree played a pivotal role in helping her consider her options as a mass communication major.
Wicker-McCree’s time as an Athletic Director has not been all glitz and glamor. At times, she had to make very tough decisions regarding different athletic teams. She said that the worst thing she ever had to do was discontinue the baseball and bowling teams.
“These young men and women spent their lives honing and crafting their skills. Their parents have invested a lot of money to get them where they are afforded the opportunity to play in college, so to have to be able to look them in the eyes and share with them that was it for their career here was one of the lowest moments,” said Wicker-McCree with tears in her eyes.
Despite these tough moments, Wicker-McCree has made everyone in the athletics program feel like family. Kyle Serba, director for strategic communications, said that Wicker-McCree brings a different energy to the work environment.
“She understands family is a priority and that has always been something that she upholds. In fact, we consider each other family.”
Wicker-McCree said that her plans for the future include watching her daughter play volleyball at the collegiate level as well as possibly serving as an interim athletic director at other universities.
NCCU alumnus, Louis “Skip” Perkins, will be taking over as athletic director in the fall. Perkins is currently assistant vice president for development at Morgan State University.