Former Charlotte 49ers Athletic Director Judy Rose thought she was just having a normal meeting with the PR representative for Conference USA last week. Little did she know she was being inducted into the second annual C-USA Hall of Fame class.
When asked how it felt to be inducted into the C-USA Hall of Fame, Rose said she was “very humbled” to be included in the second annual class when she looked at the names in her induction class.
Some of her major accomplishments during her 43-year service to Charlotte’s athletic department included being the third female named athletic director in Division I sports history, overseeing the construction of $100 million worth of athletic facilities and adding seven sports programs including 49er football. She also fast-tracked the football team into a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conference.
Working for the Charlotte 49ers athletic department has been the only school that now Rose worked for at out of college. She received her undergraduate degree in physical education from Winthrop University and went straight on to get her master's degree from the University of Tennessee. She was part of the first group of women to get to reap the benefits of the passing of Title IX in 1972.
The Charlotte 49ers offered her to coach women’s basketball, tennis, teach a physical education course and be in charge of the lifeguards. She was hesitant at first due to the lifeguard liability but she took the job and “never looked back".
She also came to work for the Niners because her mother had passed away earlier and she “wanted to stay close enough to her dad and family” to be there for them as she began her career.
After her first three years with the 49ers, she was offered the role to be in charge of all female athletics while still being a basketball coach. She was happy to take on that responsibility. She said she is “a planner” so she started to think to herself does she want to be a basketball coach forever or does she want to take a different path. She decided that since she wanted to raise a family, it would be better for her if she went to a more sports administration path rather than staying as a coach forever.
Eventually, she was promoted to the assistant athletic director and was also the women’s basketball coach. As a planner, she knew she needed to learn and grow as the assistant athletic director if she wanted to follow the administration's path, so she insisted that she be put in charge of both men’s and women’s sports as the assistant athletic director so she could gain more knowledge for the future. She said the programs grew at such a fast rate that they needed a full-time assistant athletic director and a full-time women’s basketball coach so she had a choice to make.
When asked what she considers her major accomplishment, she said “the addition of football” and says it was the “most challenging” thing she did during her 28 years as the director of athletics. She said she tried to add football with four different chancellors. She put together a committee in 2001 to gauge the community’s ideas behind it and it got the support it needed. However, due to the 9/11 tragedy, fundraising wasn’t possible due to the economic crisis after the tragedy.
But finally, in 2013, Charlotte added its football team. This time adding the Niners football team had its own unique challenges. The original committee Rose formed met with the most secrecy. They covered up the windows for about the first 6 years to keep the secret from getting out. They faced the issues of convincing the current administration at Charlotte that the community would support the program. One issue Rose saw with gaining the support of the community was they needed the football team to be in an FBS conference, not a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The FBS level of football is the top level in college football.
Rose looked to return the Niners to their current home with C-USA. She says that since they didn't burn any bridges when they left C-USA the first time, they were welcomed back with open arms which she was thankful for. She went on to say that “you never burn bridges in this industry cause it always comes back to haunt you." Lucky for Rose, the athletic program stayed clear of any issues.
Rose chose to be the full-time assistant athletic director because she felt she was better in that role and that it was a better fit for her plan. Rose said she “never dreamed I would stay my entire career in one place", but it was the best fit for her and her plan especially in 1990 when Chancellor Woodward gave her the opportunity to be the third woman in history to be the athletic director of a division I sports program. She says she “counts her blessings every day because it wasn’t happening anywhere across the country at that time.”
“When I became athletic director I didn’t view myself as a trailblazer,” said Rose. She says now that she has gotten older, she can see that she was thanks to the opportunities provided to her by the Charlotte 49ers and especially Chancellor Woodward for giving her the opportunity to be an athletic director.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to work at UNC Charlotte,” said Rose.