After four months without an athletic director, Emory Athletics announced on Nov. 9 that Keiko Price, currently the sports administrator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will become assistant vice president of Campus Life and director of athletics. Price will officially begin as Emory’s athletic director on Dec. 10. 

In the announcement, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Enku Gelaye said Price’s experience working with students and coaches at “elite academic” institutions stood out during the search process. 

A former student athlete herself, Keiko plans to use her “competitive drive” as the athletic director to ensure the needs of students, coaches and staff are met. 

“I’ll be able to understand what the student athletes go through day to day with managing sports and academic demands,” Price said in an interview with the Wheel. “I’ve been there, I’ve done that. So I will definitely be able to be a resource to them.”

Price believes it’s necessary to bridge the current gap between Emory’s athletes and administration. Price also acknowledged how harmful the online environment is to an athlete’s well-being. 

“It’s tough for athletes all over the country, as they’re having to grapple with many, many issues, whether it’s social justice issues or COVID, and it’s taking a toll on them mentally and physically,” Price said. 

Keiko Price, now Emory’s director of athletics, delivers a speech at the Diversity and Inclusion Summit./Courtesy of Keiko Price

This past week, Price invited all student athletes to a Zoom conference call during which shared her plans for her tenure. Men’s soccer senior captain Max Mehlman appreciated Price’s plan to include students in decisions and be transparent.

“I think she’s gonna be great,” Mehlman said. “She’s young and has a lot of fresh ideas that I think will advance the program. She has a lot of background at some bigger schools, and I hope she brings that bigger-school experience here.”

Mehlman, along with fellow senior captain Josh Berman, plans to return to Emory next fall to regain his lost seasons. In the meantime, Berman hopes Price can encourage in-person sports competition. 

“I hope that she really pushes to bring back spring athletics and make sure everyone is healthy and safe while doing it,” Berman said. “And in the future, I hope she emphasizes the quality athletic programs that Emory has and really just brands that to the rest of the country.”

Over the next few months, Price plans to extensively listen and learn from current Emory administrators and students so that she can better understand her role as athletic director. The viability of spring sports remains unknown, but Price will collaborate with a working group designed to formulate a plan for the spring sports season to determine if, and to what extent, spring sports can be held. 

“I’m relying on that group and campus leaders to put a plan in place, and it sounds like they’re moving forward with those discussions,” Price said. “So my plan is when I start, I will be able to contribute to those conversations that have already started and hopefully be able to find a way to do this safely.”

Overall, Price plans to prioritize the experience of not just student athletes but all members of the Emory community. 

“I would like to provide an excellent experience for the students,” Price said. “For me, that ranges from competing for national championships across the board with all of our sports to ensuring that staff and faculty and students have the support and the resources and the programming that fits their needs holistically.”