Huntsville, Ala. — The pioneer in women’s sports at Alabama A&M University who catapulted to Director of Athletics at her alma mater has decided to retire.
Betty Kelly Austin, the internationally noted and legendary volleyball coach, coordinator of women’s sports and athletics director at AAMU will enter into retirement November 30, stated AAMU President Andrew Hugine, Jr., Thursday. Austin has served as AD since March 2007.
“We thank Mrs. Austin for her exemplary service, for her leadership of the athletic program, and for serving as a role model for our students,” said Hugine. “We commend her for the tremendous strides she made for AAMU athletics.” He went on to laud Austin for her consistent insistence that student athletes place scholarship first. That urging, he says, led to AAMU having among the highest academic percentages in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).
“We wish her well and a well-deserved rest,” said Hugine. Austin has agreed to anchor the athletics program through February 29, as the University conducts a search for a replacement.
“I am grateful to A&M and the administration for the opportunity to work for my Alma Mater for over 35 years,” said Austin. “I wish all of the students, faculty and staff the very best. I will still be around to cheer on the Bulldogs.”
Austin’s stellar AAMU career encompasses a lengthy stint as one of the top volleyball coaches in the country, finishing with over 600 career victories. Coach Austin’s teams won six-straight Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) volleyball titles from 2000-05 and 11 more Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) titles in her 30 years as head coach. She was named SWAC Coach of the Year in each of her six championship seasons. Austin retired from her coaching duties following the 2006 season, ending her volleyball career with a 603-235 record.
She has also served as the head women’s basketball coach at Alabama A&M during the 1977-78 and 1981-82 seasons.
In her director of athletics role, Austin strengthened the athletic program’s systems and processes, including filing and meeting all NCAA regulations and reporting guidelines. She increased revenue generation for the athletic programs and implemented a plan to increase use of the Louis Crews Stadium to include special group nights at each of the home football games.
Events at Louis Crews Stadium under her tenure include a FIFA international soccer match, the Alabama High School Football All-Star Game, home to the Alabama Renegades women’s football team, and the Huntsville Black Arts Festival, to name a few.
Austin’s tenure also includes the development of the student-athlete academic resource center and opening of a new sports medicine treatment facility. After much sweat equity, Austin was instrumental in securing a contract with Tuskegee University for the Louis Crews Classic. The 2011 event netted the second largest attendance in the history of the 21,000-seat stadium.
Moreover, Austin completed renovations to Elmore Gymnasium to include new reserved seating in the arena’s lower level. Then, in fall 2011, Austin and school officials made a historic announcement: The Bulldogs are slated to play the Auburn University Tigers in a gridiron competition in 2012.
The 1974 AAMU graduate received a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Michigan in 1975. A native Huntsvillian, she is also a graduate of Buckhorn High School.