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Jennifer Flowers named Athletic Director at SMSU

Mustangs name Flowers new AD in Marshall
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 11:21 PM CDT
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MARSHALL, MN (Dakota News Now) -Southwest Minnesota State University President Dr. Kumara Jayasuriya announced on Wednesday the hiring of Jennifer Flowers as the next Director of Athletics at SMSU.

Flowers, who will begin her duties on July 1, recently completed her third season as the commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and has spent 15 years in administrative roles at the intercollegiate level. She becomes the first female Director of Athletics in University history to oversee both the women’s and men’s programs.

“I am excited to have Jennifer join our team and build on the success and traditions within our athletic programs,” Jayasuriya said. “Jennifer is an accomplished leader that has worked at all levels of athletic administration. Her commitment to ensuring student-athletes have a quality experience and achieve academic and athletic success is exemplary.”

Hired in July of 2019, Flowers oversaw the eight-team Division I women’s hockey league, including all areas of the league’s operations and staffing. The most recent season included the announcement of a revolutionary partnership between the WCHA and the Big Ten Network as the league embarked on an exclusive streaming partnership with B1G+. Increasing the exposure and visibility of the league at a national level, Flowers also bridged broadcasting partnerships with Fox9+ for the Final Faceoff and Bally Sports North throughout the season.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the Southwest Minnesota State University Athletics Department,” Flowers said. “I want to thank President Jayasuriya for his leadership and his belief in me. I would also like to thank the search committee and the SMSU community for their guidance and for showing me how special SMSU is.”

The success of the 2021-22 season was showcased as Ohio State won its first NCAA title and the league’s 19th National Championship in March. Flowers continued to showcase the successes of the WCHA’s student-athletes as she aired weekly “Commissioner’s Corner” episodes, increasing from 13 one-on-one episodes in 2020-21 to 24 episodes in 2021-22.

Continuing to grow the WCHA’s external relations, the 2021-22 year included Flowers’ announcement of the largest sponsorship deals for the Final Faceoff championship in league history along with a fresh website partnership with SIDEARM Sports. Flowers’ vision for the league continued to build through campus relations with her coaching staffs and student-athletes, along with historic growth of the WCHA’s social media presence.

During her time at the WCHA, Flowers helped the league expand with the addition of the University of St. Thomas, she helped guide the league through the challenging COVID-19 pandemic and continued to build the branding of the league through increased television agreements with Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Flowers is no stranger to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference as she served as that league’s Assistant Commissioner for Membership Services from 2016-19.

During her time at the NSIC, Flowers focused on the internal service of the membership and league stakeholders. She served as the office liaison in support of the NSIC senior women’s administrators, faculty athletic representatives, Student-Athlete Advisory Committees and officials coordinators.

Flowers was responsible for assisting with strategic plan implementation with a commitment to academics and life skills, athletics operations and compliance, diversity and inclusion, game day, championships, membership and positioning. She had championship oversight of volleyball, swimming & diving, basketball and softball. Flowers was also closely involved in sponsorship and corporate partner initiatives.

Flowers led an NSIC committee that created the league’s first transgender student-athlete participation guidelines and coordinated the launch of the league’s SAAC Cup, which was designed to encourage engagement of campus Student-Athlete Advisory Councils. She developed and implemented the NSIC Women’s Coaches Symposium in 2017, which has since been rebranded the NSIC Women’s Leadership Symposium. Flowers also oversaw the creation of the NSIC Elite 18 Award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the top GPA in each of the league’s sponsored sports.

Prior to her tenure at the NSIC, Flowers worked at Winona State University as the associate athletic director and senior woman administrator from 2012-15. She also had a stint at WSU from 2006-09. Flowers oversaw internal aspects of the department, including compliance and budget coordination along with athletic department scheduling. She was the department’s liaison to the Winona State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as well.

Flowers began her career in intercollegiate athletics during the 2004-05 academic year at the University of Minnesota where she was the assistant to the associate athletic director. She was the assistant championship manager for four NCAA Championships, one WCHA Championship and also was the assistant game director for Minnesota’s Music City Bowl appearance in 2004.

Following her year at Minnesota, Flowers served as an assistant women’s basketball and volleyball coach at Simpson College during the 2005-06 season. She helped guide Simpson’s women’s basketball team to the Iowa Conference regular season and tournament championships while equaling the program’s record for wins in a season. She also helped guide the volleyball program to a 21-14 record and a second-place finish at the conference tournament.

“It was evident throughout the process that being a Mustang elicits tremendous pride,” Flowers said. “I look forward to working with our talented staff and student-athletes as we take Mustang Athletics to new heights.”

“I want to thank our Interim Athletic Directors Bruce Saugstad, Allison Monson and Ross Webskowski for their leadership this past year, " Jayasuriya said. “It is an exciting time for Mustang Athletics and I am looking forward to what the future holds.”

Flowers was a four-year letter winner in volleyball at Winona State from 1999-2002, where she was a two-year captain, two-time all-conference honoree and a three-time Academic All-NSIC selection.

Flowers earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, with an emphasis in middle school mathematics, from WSU in 2003, while earning her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in education, recreation, park & leisure studies in 2005.

Jennifer and her husband, Jonte, have one daughter, Ayanna, and one son, Kellen.

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