JACQUES TALK: Keli Zinn
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Keli Zinn, the first woman to lead the athletics department of West Virginia University, has been hired as executive deputy athletic director and chief operating officer for LSU Athletics, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward announced Wednesday, Dec. 28.
“Keli is a rising star in collegiate athletics, and the experience, leadership, and vision she brings to our department will be vital to our continued growth and excellence,” said Woodward. “Throughout her career, she has worked diligently to provide coaches, staff, and student-athletes with everything they need to compete at the highest level. In addition to her proven experience as an administrator, she embraces our department’s commitments and priorities and embodies the values that will sustain our success and elevate our entire community. We are thrilled to welcome her and her family to Baton Rouge.”
At LSU, Zinn will oversee the daily operations of the athletics department, working closely with university leadership, senior athletics administration, and campus and community partners to support and advance the Tigers’ growth and success. Her work will include administrative supervision of all 21 varsity programs, as well as capital projects, revenue generation, strategic initiatives, and more.
“LSU is a world-class brand with a proud athletics tradition, and I am so honored to join the Tiger Family,” said Zinn. “I cannot wait to work with our student-athletes, coaches, and staff to help provide a tremendous experience and to support their pursuits of excellence. I am grateful to President Tate and Scott Woodward for this incredible opportunity, and my husband and I are looking forward to immersing ourselves into the Baton Rouge community. Geaux Tigers!”
Zinn arrived in Baton Rouge with nearly two decades of experience in Power Five athletics. Since July 2016, she has served as deputy athletics director and COO at West Virginia, providing strategic direction and operations management to the Mountaineers’ 18 intercollegiate programs and 250 coaches and staff.
In 2015, WVU president E. Gordon Gee appointed her as interim athletics director, making her the first woman to helm the university’s department of athletics. A graduate of West Virginia, Zinn returned to Morgantown in 2010 as associate athletics director for compliance and governance, and in 2014, she was elevated to executive senior associate athletics director. Previously, she served as assistant athletics director at the University of Maryland (2005-2010) and as a compliance assistant with the Big East (2003-2004).
In November, Zinn was selected as West Virginia Executive Magazine’s cover recipient of the 2022 Young Guns Class, representing a generation of leaders who have accomplished great things through their careers in the business world and in their communities. A 2020 inductee into the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Hall of Fame, Zinn received Forty Under 40 honors from the Sports Business Journal in 2019, and in 2016, she was selected as one of SBJ’s Game Changers. She graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in sport management. She and her husband, Nathaniel, married in 2017.
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