March 8, 2016
By Lizzie Mikes
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Claire Leatherwood, the assistant athletics director for policy management at the University of Notre Dame, has been named sport administrator for the Fighting Irish men’s and women’s cross country programs, it was announced Tuesday.
Leatherwood, who joined the Notre Dame department of athletics in November, also will serve in a similar capacity with the Fighting Irish distance runners and coaches throughout the NCAA indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, teaming with Monogram Club Director of Student-Athlete Alumni Relations & Engagement and track and field sport administrator Reggie Brooks to provide comprehensive administrative engagement to the six combined programs.
Leatherwood’s role is part of the unique sport administration program created by Notre Dame’s James E. Rohr Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick, under which each varsity program has one or more sport administrators who serve only that program. The unique model allows an athletics administrator to focus on a single program in addition to his/her day-to-day duties for the Notre Dame Athletics Department, providing maximum support for coaches, student-athletes and staff.
“The biggest thing to being a sport administrator is just to be who you are,” Brooks said. “The biggest benefit to us is that Claire has a background in distance running. Having Claire in this role, and with her understanding of the sport, it makes it a lot easier to understand what our student-athletes are dealing with on a daily basis, and for us to be able to communicate effectively to better serve our student-athlete population.”
Leatherwood was a six-time varsity letterwinner as an undergrad at Yale University, where she ran with the Bulldogs’ cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field varsity teams. A 2009 graduate of Yale, Leatherwood went on to graduate from Notre Dame Law School in May 2012. During her last two years of law school, she served as a volunteer coach with the Fighting Irish cross country and track and field teams. These experiences made it natural for Leatherwood to assume responsibility as sport supervisor for the cross country and track and field teams at the College of William & Mary during her first stop as an athletics administrator.
“My time as a volunteer assistant coach gave me great insight into the experience of student-athletes here at Notre Dame,” Leatherwood said. “When I returned to Notre Dame, Reggie and I reconnected immediately. I could not be more excited about the opportunity to help Reggie and our men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs continue to excel.”
In her current role as Notre Dame’s assistant athletics director for policy management, Leatherwood supports the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Professor of Law and Faculty Athletics Representative Patricia Bellia, and senior associate athletics director Jill Bodensteiner. Leatherwood will work with both Bellia and Bodensteiner on internal and external policy matters, and will support the work of the Notre Dame Faculty Board on Athletics.
“We are incredibly excited to have an individual with Claire’s experience, passion and intellect on the administrative team at Notre Dame,” Bodensteiner said. “Claire’s presence will help Notre Dame to continue to dedicate the resources necessary to be a thought leader nationally on issues impacting intercollegiate athletics – particularly as it relates to the student-athlete experience.”
Leatherwood started at William & Mary in June 2012 as assistant director of compliance and quickly was promoted to director of compliance. By the time Leatherwood departed William & Mary in October 2015, she had risen to the role of assistant athletics director of compliance, where she served as senior compliance officer, supervising all compliance staff and reporting directly to the College’s associate athletics director for student services.
Leatherwood is originally from Ashville, Ohio, and has two younger sisters who both played collegiate tennis. She is engaged to Pat Slebonick, who was a football student-athlete at the University of Virginia. Slebonick subsequently graduated from William & Mary Law School and is the new executive director of the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. The couple lives in South Bend with their dog, Toby.
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Lizzie Mikes serves as Media Services Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. A 2013 graduate of Johnson & Wales University, she oversees credential management and is the athletic communications director for Fighting Irish men’s and women’s swimming and diving and track and field. She has assisted with numerous NCAA postseason events hosted by Notre Dame, and is heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of the athletic communications office.