Spry is thrilled to celebrate the many successful women in the sport industry. We are proud to work with many of these women and can’t wait to share their stories and successes with you!
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Shauna Cobb. Shauna is the Senior Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator at Boston College, where she has served since 2021. Prior to joining the Eagles staff, Shauna was the Director of Academics and Membership Affairs at the NCAA, where she worked for 12 years. Her responsibilities at the NCAA included co-oversight of the team that processes interpretations and waivers of Division I academic legislation. She also had oversight of the Division I Academic Performance Program, which involved management of academic data operations, penalty waivers, APR improvement plans, public releases, and policy interpretations. A 2001 graduate of Clemson University, Cobb shared her talents on two other ACC campuses, serving as a compliance administrator at both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, before joining the NCAA in 2009.
Below is a summary of our conversation:
Please give me a brief history of your life/career
Shauna began her athletics career at Georgia Tech. At the time her duties involved oversight of the National Letter of Intent program, which she now views as a rich formative experience, largely because it allowed her to interact and form valuable relationships with the ACC conference office personnel. As an Associate AD at Virginia Tech, she was able to continue to expand her skill set, acquiring knowledge and experiences that would ultimately lead her to the NCAA national office. Never content with the status quo, Shauna’s quest to master her craft resulted in her completion of the NCAA’s Whitcomb Leadership Institute in 2008, as well as the NCAA/NACWAA Institute for Administrative Advancement in 2012. In 2016, Cobb participated in the NCAA Pathway Program, a year-long experiential learning opportunity for senior-level athletics administrators. The most recent stop along her journey brought her to Chestnut Hill in her current position at Boston College. Cobb credits her willingness to be “coachable” as being a significant contributor to her career advancement.
What inspired you to want to pursue a career in intercollegiate athletics?
Shauna’s driving force is her desire to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes. At every step of her decorated career, she has sought to support, encourage and inspire young people. At the NCAA, she relished the opportunity to impact tens of thousands of students through her work with Academic and Membership Affairs, but ultimately, the ability to establish more personal relationships with student-athletes is what led her back to campus in her current role last fall.
What’s the biggest thing you know now that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?
Cobb said that as she was starting her professional journey, she wishes she had fully appreciated how important relationships were. She also stated that she would encourage younger professionals to treat every interaction as a potential job interview. In saying this, she noted a conversation with Curtis Solomon during her tenure at Georgia Tech. What seemed like a mundane conversation at the time still resonated with Solomon years later when Cobb was recruited to join the NCAA staff.
When asked about her role models growing up? In sports, in business?
Shauna identified several role models whom she cited as having been instrumental in her career trajectory. She credited Amy Huchthausen, a supervisor at the NCAA, for her willingness to share valuable information and pour into her growth as a young professional. She also noted Curtis Solomon as being another mentor during her time at the national office. She credits Solomon with helping her shape her professional identity and values. Shauna also expressed gratitude for the compassionate guidance of Diane Dickman. Dickman was the individual who hired Shauna to her first position at the NCAA. Cobb remembers Dickman telling her, “I’m not going to let you fail”, and spoke of how meaningful it was to have that level of trust and support as a young staff member at the NCAA.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received was?
Shauna shared that a former Vice President at the NCAA once reminded her that “this building won’t love you back.” What she gleaned from this nugget of advice was that she needed to understand who she was and what was important to her so that the job didn’t define her.
Another piece of advice that she reflects on to this day is to never give so much that you have nothing left to give.
Finish the sentence, The best part of my job is student-athletes. The kids keep you young! .
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from my conversation with Shauna is her commitment to paying it forward. Just as she credits her mentors at the NCAA for showing her the way, she firmly believes that it is her obligation to do the same for others. Shauna stated, “The information doesn’t belong to me, so why wouldn’t I share it with others? We can’t be afraid to let other people shine. Blowing out your candle doesn’t make mine shine any brighter.”
Shauna’s candle is most certainly shining brightly! She is truly a credit to the profession and an inspiration to aspiring women in athletics, and beyond. We are grateful that she took the time to share some of her story with us. Please join Spry in celebrating her wonderful contributions to the sports industry!
Read the next article in Spry’s Women’s History Month series: Celebrating Kirsten is the Deputy Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at Syracuse University.