Next MEAC commissioner promises creativity, innovation

Sonya Stills
Courtesy of MEAC

Sonya Stills will be the next Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) commissioner, effective January 1, 2022. She becomes the conference’s first female commissioner and the first female head in HBCU Division I history.

Stills replaces the retiring Dr. Dennis Thomas.

“My vision is different from Dr. Thomas’,” declared Stills during her Oct. 28 virtual press conference with the media, including the MSR. “My vision for the conference involved some office restructuring that fits into the creativity and innovation that is necessary for the current times that we’re in, working with the membership.

A 1993 graduate of Old Dominion, Stills has a B.A. in human services counseling. She later earned her Master’s in counseling from Hampton University, is a 2002 graduate of the Sports Management Institute, and graduated from the NACWAA/HERS Institute for Administrative Advancement in 2008.

Stills has been with the MEAC for 19 years, beginning in 2002. She was promoted to league chief of staff and chief operating officer in January 2021. Among her duties during her tenure are negotiating corporate partnerships, including a contract with Nike with member schools; developing two strategic and long-range plans for the conference (2008 and 2022-22); and taking over as MEAC’s esports director in the summer of 2020.

“That’s a sport that has been my biggest challenge and biggest joy,” admitted Stills, whose vision includes a MEAC varsity esports league one day.

 The MEAC currently has eight institutions. When a reporter asked about future expansion, Stills stressed, “We’ve always been looking at membership expansion, but it’s very important that we look at it in a methodical way, that we don’t just have to get a school here, school there. They have to align with our mission. We need to make sure that it fits our footprint.

“One of the things we are going to be focusing on is giving us a national platform,” said Stills to an MSR question on how she plans to keep the MEAC in the national spotlight. “We have our long-term relationship with ESPN. So having more opportunities to put our HBCU memberships in front of a national audience, that’s going to be key.

“We’re looking for ways that we can tell the story of the conference and its legacy.”

Furthermore…

 Destiny Pitts was selected to the Ann Meyers-Drysdale Award watch list as one of 20 best shooting guards in the country, the WBCA and Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced last week. This is the third time the Detroit native and former Minnesota star has been named to the prestigious watch list.

Pitts in her first season at Texas A&M was named 2021 SEC Sixth Woman of the Year. Before her time at the school, the guard was Big Ten Freshman of the Year (2018) and two-time All-Big Ten selection (second team, 2018; first team, 2019).

“She’s worked hard all summer in developing her game,” A&M Coach Gary Blair told the MSR last week on Pitts, who returned for her sixth season of eligibility. “Her leadership, score and ability—she shot 46% from the three-point range. I want to see that same percentage from her [this season].”

Pitts told the MSR she hopes “to be a complete player” this season.

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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