University of the Virgin Islands first-year director of athletics Dr. Karen Carty was named the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Athletics Director of the Year as announced by GCAC Commissioner Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes at the league’s year-end business meeting, which was held at Philander Smith University in Little Rock, Ark. on June 17-19.

"This is one of my favorite times of the year, where we get to recognize the incredible accomplishments and leadership of our student-athletes and member school leadership," said Baker Barnes.

The AD of the Year and other GCAC Distinguished Member Awards are given annually and are voted on by respective GCAC council members. Points are based on peer-to-peer rankings of each council member and the administrator with the most points is awarded the honor. All conference honorees are nominated for the NAIA award. The national award recipient is announced publicly during NAIA National Awards Day in September and will be presented with a certificate and recognized at an annual function in conjunction with the NAIA National Convention.

“It is a great honor to be voted AD of the Year by my GCAC peers in my first year as an AD and in the league,” said Carty. “The award is a testament to the hard work our entire athletics staff has put in during UVI’s inaugural year in the GCAC.”

Carty, who was selected as the GCAC Vice Chair of the Council of Athletics Directors in September 2023 and named Chair in December 2023, has worked hard to stabilize the Buccaneer Athletics Department in the last 11 months. She hired a head coach for the cross country and track and field programs and added a compliance consultant, sports information director and two graduate assistants to the support staff.

Using her extensive experience in sports marketing, Carty oversaw the planning and execution of UVI’s inaugural “Buccaneer Madness”, a basketball season kick-off event, and several other themed games during basketball season that drew a total of over 8,000 fans for the season. UVI played 25 home basketball games during the 2023-24 season (five times more games than the year prior) thanks to its membership in the GCAC, which allowed the athletics department to engage the campus and local communities on multiple occasions.

The 2024 GCAC Distinguished Member Awards are the final annual awards under the name Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. The league officially becomes the HBCU Athletic Conference on July 1, 2024.

"We are excited about our name change and what it represents, and I look forward to continuing these awards and honors as the HBCUAC," Baker Barnes said. 

“I am looking forward to our evolution into the HBCUAC and excited for what the future holds for the conference,” said Carty.


About UVI Athletics

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and, as of July 1, 2023, competes in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Entering the 2023-24 season, the Buccaneers will begin their 17th season of athletic competition. As the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the Caribbean, UVI currently sponsors six sports, including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. For more information on UVI Athletics, visit UVIAthletics.com.