Black History Month: Celebrating Dr. Anthony Holloman
Spry is thrilled to celebrate the many successful African Americans in the sports industry. We are proud to work with many of these men and women and can’t wait to share their stories and successes with you!
Dr. Holloman currently serves as the Commissioner of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), a position he assumed in 2022. Upon his appointment, Holloman became the 11th commissioner of the SIAC, a 15-member NCAA Division II conference that consists of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Hollomon was well familiar with the SIAC, having previously served as AD at two of its member institutions (Tuskegee and Fort Valley State).
Below is a summary of our conversation:
Please give me a brief history of your life/career.
“I grew up on a farm in the small town of Darlington, SC. I was very active in sports growing up and eventually earned a scholarship to Johnson C. Smith University where I was a multisport athlete in Football and Track. When I went to Johnson C. Smith, I became the first person in my immediate family to attend college so it was a significant moment for both me and my family. Moving from a small town to the big city of Charlotte was a major transition, but it was a transformative experience for me. I was fortunate to enjoy immediate success as an athlete, but it was really the experiences that I had off the field that would be most instrumental in shaping my career. To that end, one of my college coaches was very business oriented and he encouraged me to view sports and life in general through that lens. I learned from him that you can use any experience in life to help prepare you for the next phase of life.”
After college, Holloman began working as a financial planner at Lincoln Financial Group. Although he had great success in this role, he realized being a financial planner wasn’t his passion. “At that time, my passion was to become a football coach, so from there I took a job at a high school as an English teacher and football coach,” Holloman said. A few years later, a head coaching position became available at his alma mater, Johnson C. Smith. While he would end up returning to JCSU, it wasn’t as a football coach, but rather as the Director of Planned Giving. On the success of his previous career in finance, this was a role in which Holloman would thrive. “It was here that I would come to understand the importance of mentorship. My relationship with Gerald Washington, who hired me at JCSU, would change the trajectory of my career.” Washington eventually became an Associate Vice Chancellor at North Carolina A&T. He took Holloman along with him to A&T. It was there that he achieved one of the most significant accomplishments of his career by overseeing the $1.5 million fundraising effort for the construction of the Irwin Belk Track and Field stadium, which is to this day one of the premier venues for Track & Field in the region. This would be the springboard for a series of professional advancements for Holloman, beginning with a move to Tuskegee, where he would serve as Associate VP for Advancement as well as Athletic Director. From there, Holloman was hired on as a Vice President for Advancement at South Carolina State and also served stints at Stillman College, Jackson State University, and Wiley College in similar capacities, and then later at Fort Valley State, where he served as both Vice President and Athletic Director.
Always a career learner, Holloman also completed a Master’s degree at the United States Sports Academy and a Doctorate degree at Gwynedd Mercy University, in Educational Leadership while also studying at the University of Pennsylvania. As a capstone to a career spent in higher education, Holloman seemed destined to become a college president. In fact, the title of his doctoral dissertation was “Perception of Effective Leadership by Current and Former Presidents of HBCUs”. This study would serve as a blueprint for aspiring HBCU presidents, but it was a blueprint Holloman would opt not to follow himself, at least for now. It was then that his career took its most recent detour when he assumed his current role as Commissioner of the SIAC. Holloman, who was humbled by the honor to serve in this capacity, is grateful to all of those who have invested in him. “I see the work I’m doing now as a way of paying tribute to all those who poured into me.”
When asked about his role models growing up? In sports, in business?
“Chuck deKrafft was a sales manager who was instrumental in me landing my first job with Lincoln Financial Group. He’s a guy who really took the time to seek me out and show me the way in the business world.”
“Gerald Washington was another great mentor. As I mentioned earlier, he has probably been the single most important person to me professionally.”
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received was?
“Talent won’t guarantee you success but hard work will. And even though the work you put in won’t always result in instant gratification, it will pay off over time. You should view it as investing in yourself.
“Try to listen twice as much as you talk.”
My best advice to aspiring professionals today would be…
“Master the art of communication. If you can’t sell yourself, how can you be trusted to sell an organization?”
“Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. When you do that, you earn credibility that will open doors.”
“Try to be a lifelong learner. Don’t ever assume that you have all the answers.”
What Black History Month Means To Me…
“Black History Month is about so many meaningful things and people, but one of the things it highlights is the importance of HBCUs. HBCUs enroll only 3% of all black college students, but they account for 20% of black college graduates. I see education as the panacea for many of the societal ills in our country today. HBCUs have been a major vehicle by which so many young black women and men have attained education. This is why these institutions and their ability to thrive is so deeply important to me.”
Anthony Holloman has certainly come a long way from his days growing up on the farm in Darlington yet, he has never forgotten those core values of education, hard work, and trustworthiness. He has truly been a trailblazer in the fields of sports and education, and Spry is thrilled to highlight his story as part of our Black History Month feature series!