Chris Williams became the second Director of Athletics in the history of Southern Wesleyan University in the fall of 2007, following in the footsteps of Warrior Athletics ‘Founding Father’, Dr. C. Keith Connor. Connor served as SWU’s first Director of Athletics from 1969 through the spring of the 2007.
Williams currently sits on the Conference Carolinas AD championship committee, a committee that reports directly to the Conference AD’s and the Conference Commissioner and is charged with recommending policy and regulations that govern the sports and championships. Williams enters his 3rd term as the NCCAA president, serving on the NCCAA Board of Directors and the Administrative Committee.
Entering his 13th year at the helm of the Southern Wesleyan’s Athletics Department, Williams has led the charge in transitioning the Warriors from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II. He led the Warriors conference transition into Conference Carolinas gaining full membership in July of 2016.
Williams has committed the department to integrating a Christian approach to faith, living, learning and competition as the Warriors represent God and the University. The Warrior athletic department supports the mission statement with 4 core pillars: Spiritual Development, Academic Success, Community Service and Athletic Excellence.
Each year Williams and his staff equip each student-athlete with their gear which includes an FCA Bible. This Bible becomes the foundation for each students faith journey at SWU. Williams continues to emphasize the unique opportunity that SWU coaches have to impact young people through the platform of sport. Coaches are expected to lead Bible studies and use other opportunities such as mission trips to deepen each students relationship with Christ.
Entering the 4th year of competition in Conference Carolinas, the Warriors have successfully competed with its 18 intercollegiate sports. SWU has been the host site for the conference outdoor track championship which brings all member schools men’s and women’s teams to central, SC for the two day meet. For the 17-18 playing season’s, the Warriors swept the conference sportsmanship awards - The sportsmanship awards are presented annually to the member institution judged to have exhibited the highest degree of sportsmanship and respect among its players, coaches, and fans during their regular playing season. The winning institution is recognized for its overall commitment to providing a quality playing environment for home and visiting fans, players, and staff members.
Along with sportsmanship, Williams has emphasized success in the classroom. The department overall GPA which continues to rise each year – currently sits at 3.23 for the 18 varsity teams and its nearly 300 student-athletes. In 2018-19 11 teams held a 3.0 GPA or higher. The Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll is awarded twice each school year, recognizing the scholastic achievements of student-athletes who achieve a grade-point average of 3.2 or higher on a 4-point scale each semester and this past year more than half (158) of the SWU student-athletes were honored.
During his tenure, the Blue and White has have won 4 NCCAA National Championships in team competitions and 13 individual national champions. This past season saw a first with the women’s outdoor track 4X4 team placing 7th in the country at the NCAA II National Championship Meet in Kingsville, Texas.
Under Williams’ leadership, the Athletics Department has undergone a vigorous transformation that includes the addition of 8 new sports and vast improvements and expansion of athletic facilities through strategic efforts. He has also been steadfast in growing the department from 10 to 18 intercollegiate sports and over 300 student-athletes. Williams has added a regionally ranked and nationally competitive men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track program, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s golf and women’s lacrosse to the list of sponsored sports at Southern Wesleyan.
Through various initiatives, he continues to work to improve and expand athletic facilities at SWU. During the NCAA transition phase, the University constructed the multi-million dollar Joe R. Gilbert Track and Field complex which was dedicated in 2014 and features a state of the art eight-lane track that is decked out in SWU Blue. The Facility also includes three long/triple jump pits, two shot put rings, a dedicated cage for the hammer and discus throws and high jump and long jump areas. Also during this phase the University completed the Cox Tennis complex – home of the men’s and women’s tennis programs. This complex features 6 lighted USTA endorsed courts and a state of the art scoreboard which enhances the complex. Williams was also at the forefront of a branding redesign for the athletic department. A new logo was developed as well as a branding identity guide.
During the 2017 season, Southern Wesleyan's Dr. C. Keith Connor Field dedicated a new Warrior clubhouse. Dr. Walt Sinnamon, former Head Baseball Coach of the Warriors and now Dean for Southern Wesleyan's College of Arts and Sciences, and his wife Carol, retired director of counseling, heard of the desire to build a new clubhouse and presented the Warrior Baseball program with a generous donation toward the clubhouse in the memory of Dr. Sinnamon's late parents. The Parker-Sinnamon Baseball Clubhouse, dedicated on February 22 in a pregame ceremony, honors Walt's father, George Sinnamon, his mother Florence Sinnamon, and Robert Parker, Florence's second husband who she married after George's passing. The clubhouse is a climate-controlled facility that includes a new locker room, bathroom, laundry area and kitchen for the team to use.
Williams has also pushed to give Historic Tysinger Gymnasium a facelift with the addition of team locker rooms and additional office space. This renovation has included updates to the strength and conditioning areas as well as the sports medicine room. Additionally, A press box and clubhouse were added to Varsity Field – home to Warrior softball – in time for the 2014 season. The new press-box sits atop the home dugout and allows game management staff to stay protected from the elements while covering games. The clubhouse offers concessions and restrooms to the public and gives the team a locker at the field.
The P.B. Wood Driving Range and M.L. Atcheson Putting Green were both dedicated in the fall of 2013 and offer the golf teams a place on campus to practice. The facility doubles as a public driving range, open to the general public. The cross country course underwent renovations that saw a brand new layout completed in time for the Warrior Invitational in 2014.
Adding quality staff has also been an area of improvement under Williams. Warrior Athletics has been able to add full-time staff members to several support departments including compliance, athletic training, sports media relations, and business management. This has allowed staff to focus on inventive ways to add value the student-athlete experience at SWU.
The SWUPY Awards created by Williams and former staffer D. Schmitt, is an annual event that recognizes the university’s student-athletes, corporate sponsors, community members and Warrior alums. This awards ceremony continues to be a campus highlight year after year. This red-carpet, formal ceremony has transformed into one of the best small college award shows in the country. Click here to watch the 2019 SWUPY’s presented by Founders Federal Credit Union - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAf1Qj6wKno
In addition to overseeing the athletics department, Williams enjoyed a 12-year tenure as the head coach of SWU and Roberts Wesleyan College women’s basketball programs. During his time as head coach his teams advanced to 3 national championship games, winning it all in 2007, bringing home the first ever national championship for Southern Wesleyan.
A native of Lansing, N.Y., Williams currently resides in Central, S.C., with his wife Lisa and his five children, Nicole, Seth, Emma, Silas and Ian.
Message from Chris R. Williams, Director of Athletics
The athletic program at Southern Wesleyan University offers men and women the opportunity to compete at a high level athletically as well as giving them a personal and meaningful experience.
Athletics participation can teach many valuable lessons in discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, perseverance, mental toughness, physical conditioning, and appropriate display of Christian witness, and we believe that those lessons will benefit our student-athletes throughout their lives.
We want your athletics experience to be a positive one. SWU is committed to providing competent coaches, adequate funding and facilities to meet program needs, and affiliations within the NCAA and NCCAA. Not all education takes place in the classroom and we believe that our athletic programs are also learning labs.
SWU athletics is embracing Romans 12:5 (so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all of the others) as our department verse and department theme of ‘One Body’. This verse and theme encourages each of the 18 varsity teams to form one body and that each of these 18 teams also belongs to all the others as well as to the entire SWU community.
We want to invite you to research our website as well as your team of choice. We would invite you to come and visit the Southern Wesleyan University campus and become a part of the ‘One Body’ which is Warrior athletics and TeamSWU.