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Duke Athletics' Jacki Silar retires after 41 years

Silar has worked within Duke Athletics during six different decades.
Silar has worked within Duke Athletics during six different decades.

After four decades and a variety of different roles within the athletics department, Jacki Silar's tenure at Duke has finally come to a close.

Silar officially retired Tuesday, six months after announcing her plan to step away. 

"I am grateful and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Duke University, specifically, the athletics department," Silar said in the December release. "Each day, I strived for excellence for our student-athletes both in the classroom and on the playing field. I loved supporting and working with the best of the best—our student-athletes, coaches and staff.

"I want to thank Duke University, former head women's basketball coach Debbie Leonard, who hired me to be her assistant coach to start my career here, as well as the three athletic directors with whom I had the privilege of working with—Tom Butters, Joe Alleva and Kevin White. Duke University will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to cheering on the Blue Devils. Go Duke!"

A staple of the Duke Athletics scene since 1979, Silar has been about as involved as one could possibly be within the department.

She began her career as a women's basketball assistant coach alongside Leonard, assuming that role for 14 seasons. Starting in 1981, Silar simultaneously held the position of field hockey head coach, twice winning ACC Coach of the Year and leading the Blue Devils to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1992. She stepped down from that position in 1995 as the program's all-time leader in coaching wins and holds that record to this day.

Silar then transitioned into athletics administration in a variety of different capacities, most notably becoming the first senior women's administrator in Duke Athletics' history. She also served on the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Committee and NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee, assuming the role of chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee in 2008-09.

Her most recent position within the athletics department was senior associate director of athletics.

"To be sure, no one has represented the welfare of Duke University's student-athletes, coaches and staff in a more profound and supportive manner than Jacki Silar," director of athletics Kevin White said in the release. "In addition to being a pioneer in women's college athletics administration, her name is synonymous with excellence in leadership. Jacki has been a cornerstone of success within Duke Athletics and will be greatly missed, but we commend her on an exceptional career and wish her well in retirement."

Silar also worked as an academic advisor for freshman and sophomore undergraduates, taught in the department of Physical Education and served on a variety of Duke committees, including the Harassment Grievance Board, Equity Committee, President's Commission on the Status of Women, Campus Culture Initiative Steering Committee and Sexual Misconduct Task Force. 

Upon her retirement, Duke Athletics released a tribute from a variety of the different colleagues Silar has worked with throughout the years.


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