By: CIAA Sports
In continued celebration and acknowledgment of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), the nation’s oldest historically Black athletic conference, is recognizing four CIAA Hall of Famers and a fifth that could possibly be joining them in the future, that have and are providing a positive influence on their institutions, women’s athletics, and HBCUs. These five people are just five of a total of 50 CIAA Title IX Trailblazers, who will be recognized during the 2023 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, which will be held from February 21-25 at the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, MD.
Elorine Hill, James Battle, Dr. Linda Person, and Delores “Dee” Todd crafted their legacies long ago with a combined 80-plus years of experience in intercollegiate athletics. Their efforts paved the way for a new generation; a generation, headlined by names like Tiffani-Dawn Sykes that is beginning to craft their own stories and make their own marks. These five individuals are CIAA Title IX Trailblazers.
Elorine Hill | Saint Augustine’s & Fayetteville State
Student-Athlete & Coach
Hill coached volleyball, tennis, women’s basketball, and men’s & women’s cross country at Fayetteville State. She is credited with starting both the cross country program and women’s tennis program at FSU. Hill coached cross country from 1989-1994, women’s tennis from 2002-2008, and volleyball from 1991-2008. She was an assistant women’s basketball coach from 1992-2002. Her lengthy list of accolades includes eight CIAA Championship Championships (five in tennis and three in volleyball) and seven CIAA Coach of the Year honors (four-time Volleyball Coach of the Year and three-time CIAA Tennis Coach of the Year). In total, Hill coached 76 All-CIAA selections and five CIAA Player of the Years. She is the Broncos’ winningest coach in volleyball program history with 331 overall victories, including 202 wins in conference play and 12 winning seasons.
Hill was a four-time CIAA Volleyball Coach of the Year (1995, 1996, 1998, & 2007), qualifying for six conference championship finals in volleyball, winning three CIAA titles, and earning five NCAA Division II Regional Tournament appearances.
In tennis, Hill earned five conference titles and was a three-time CIAA Tennis Coach of the Year (2002, 2003, & 2007). In 2002, the first year of women’s tennis at Fayetteville State, Hill earned the Broncos the inaugural CIAA women’s tennis title, en route to a four-peat from 2002 to 2005 in the program’s first four years. Hill earned her fifth title in 2007.
Hill’s CIAA journey began as a student-athlete at St. Augustine’s College (now-University), where she was an outstanding track & field athlete. During her collegiate career, Hill was a three-time All-American, national champion in the shot put, District 26 champion, and a member of St. Augustine’s track teams that won the CIAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships and the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Graduating in 1987, Hill was inducted into St. Augustine’s Hall of Fame in 2007 and she was recently inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in December 2022.
James Battle | Virginia Union
James Battle spent 16 years as the Director of Athletics at Virginia Union University. Battle started his tenure as Athletic Director in 1985 after joining the Panthers as an assistant coach on the men’s basketball team in 1979.
Under Battle’s leadership, Virginia Union won eight championships in men’s basketball and four NCAA Division II regional crowns. The 1992 team won the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship. In football, the Panthers won three CIAA titles.
Battle also helped kickstart Jacqie McWilliams-Parker’s career in coaching when Battle hired McWilliams-Parker. Today, McWilliams-Parker is the Commissioner of the CIAA.
The Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient is a 1965 graduate of Fayetteville State University. Battle was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2015.
|Dr. Linda Person | Virginia State|
Professor, Coach, & Administrator
Dr. Linda Person coached women’s tennis at Virginia State University for nearly 20 years and has been a professor at Virginia State for over 30 years. She finished her coaching career as a seven-time CIAA Women’s Tennis Coach of the Year, winning the award in 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Under her leadership, the Trojans’ women’s tennis team was named Divisional Champions nine times (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2017). In 2008, the women’s tennis program claimed the CIAA Championship Title and the Trojans advanced to the NCAA Regionals for two consecutive years (2008, 2009).
In 2018, Dr. Person, department chair and Associate Professor of the Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport Management, was appointed as Faculty Athletics Representative. The faculty athletics representative (FAR) plays an important role on college campuses, providing oversight of the academic integrity of the athletics program and serving as an advocate for student-athlete well-being.
Dr. Person earned her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Virginia State, and she was inducted into the Trojans’ Hall of Fame in 2000.
|Delores Todd | North Carolina A&T & Atlantic Coast Conference|
Coach & Administrator
Delores “Dee” Todd has a long list of firsts in her career. In 1980, she was the first African American woman to appear on a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. In 1985, Todd became the first Black head coach in any sport in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), when she was named Head Coach of Georgia Tech’s Track & Field program. Todd was also the first female assistant commissioner of the ACC, and she was the first female to serve as Athletic Director at North Carolina A&T.
In 2005, Todd was named the Athletic Director at North Carolina A&T after nearly 17 years (1988-2005) working for the ACC. From 2000 to 2005, Todd held the title of Assistant Commissioner/Director of Student-Athlete Affair with the ACC.
Todd chaired the United States Olympic Committee (USOC)’s Minorities in Sports Task Force and was co-founder of Project GOLD. She is a past president and former member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College Women Athletic Administrators. She chaired the subcommittee of the NCAA Division I Track and Field Committee responsible for the complete coordination of the Division I Outdoor Track Meet from 1995-99.
Todd was instrumental in implementing a world-class track and field facility at North Carolina A&T, resulting in North Carolina A&T becoming the first HBCU to host an NCAA Division I regional championship on its campus in 2006.
Todd is a graduate of Winston-Salem State and she has been inducted into both the CIAA Hall of Fame (2001) and Winston-Salem State’s Hall of Fame (2002).
Tiffani-Dawn Sykes | Virginia Union, Virginia State, Saint Paul’s
Student-Athlete & Administrator
Today, Tiffani-Dawn Sykes is the Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Florida A&M, beginning her tenure on January 4, 2023.
However, before she was named to her position at FAMU, Sykes was a two-sport athlete at Virginia State University. Sykes was a team captain and four-year starter on the volleyball team and a three-year letter winner on the track & field team.
After graduating from Virginia State in 2001, Sykes began her career in college athletics at Saint Paul’s College, where she worked at for four years and held the roles of sports information director and senior woman administrator. Sykes also worked for Norfolk State, Virginia Union, Chowan, Grambling State, and the CIAA conference office.
Prior to joining FAMU, Sykes was the Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director for Varsity Sports and senior woman administrator at Dartmouth College. She joined Dartmouth in 2019.
Sykes currently serves on the NCAA Olympic Sports Liaison Committee, and she is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC), Women Leaders in College Sports, and the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.
On February 25, the CIAA will be crowning the 2023 champion in men’s and women’s basketball and so every week leading into the CIAA Basketball Tournament, the conference will be recognizing a set of trailblazers.
Additionally, as part of the continued efforts to champion and highlight the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, the CIAA has introduced a dedicated Title IX Page on its website, featuring archives of the CIAA Woman of the Years, various other relevant news releases, and video podcast episodes highlighting some amazing women inside and outside the conference.
Title IX imagery will be featured heavily during the CIAA Tournament. Last month, the CIAA inducted an all-women’s Hall of Fame class for 2023 in honor of Title IX. Tickets are currently on sale for the CIAA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday, February 24 at 9 a.m.