Larry Williams

Take 5: Meet Larry Williams, USF's New Athletic Director

The former NFL player and lawyer talks mission, morale, and the NCAA’s new NIL policy.

by Mary McInerney

1 Why USF?

USF represents to me the almost perfect combination of things I cherish. No. 1, it’s the Catholic identity. No. 2, it’s the deep educational mission. And No. 3, it’s athletic participation in an environment that very specifically includes 1 and 2. At this point in my career, there’s almost a vocational element to what I do here at USF.

2 What is your No. 1 focus at USF? 

My current No. 1 focus is to build a highly functioning department that efficiently accomplishes the mission that we’re called to serve. Really, it’s teambuilding. I want a great team that represents our university in a stellar fashion. We’ve got great people, but we’ve got work to do to get everyone in the right position.

3 What about USF Athletics’ recent difficulties, including alleged inappropriate behavior by former coaches and athletes? How have they impacted morale?

I think it’s impacted it pretty significantly. Anyone who’s ever been on a team feels the effects of what’s going on with their teammates. Right now, the morale is bruised but eager to heal, eager to move on, eager to grow. There is a great sense of anticipation but also a deep knowledge of what we need to do better.

4 Can you talk about the new NCAA-sanctioned endorsement options for college athletes? 

What it means is that college athletes are able to commercialize and control their name, image, and likeness (NIL). As a practical matter, we get to attract athletes (through recruiting efforts) who want to have an impact with the many unique corporations that surround this university. It’s a great opportunity for USF athletes. If a young person comes with a social media following, they can monetize that. Also, via collectives, athletes can get paid to appear for a hospital or a youth club. There are many opportunities.

5 Favorite place in San Francisco?

I’m still learning. So far, it’s Golden Gate Park. There are so many things going on. I like fly fishing, and there’s a fly-fishing pond. I like pickleball, and there are pickleball courts. I like walking, and there are miles of walking tracks.


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