MO State HS Sports

Jean Cerra Honored with Nike Lifetime Achievement Award

Jean Cerra Lifetime Achievement Graphic

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Jean Cerra, a generational leader and pioneer in college athletics and Mizzou administrator in the 1970s and ’80s, was honored with the Nike Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women Leaders in Sports national convention Tuesday in New Orleans. The award is given annually to administrators and professionals who have dedicated their careers to advancing women in sport. Cerra is one of four recipients this year.

Cerra, who earned a PhD in Educational Administration from Mizzou’s College of Education, served Mizzou Athletics as a senior administrator from 1976-85. She joined the athletics department as Assistant Athletics Director and Director of Women’s Athletics and helped direct the merger of the men’s and women’s programs on the Columbia campus as women’s sports made the transition from the physical education department to the school’s intercollegiate athletics program. In 1979, she was promoted to Associate AD for Internal Operations and convinced the school to implement a gender-neutral administrative structure that eliminated positions designated for women or men, making her one of the country’s first women to oversee both men’s and women’s sports at the collegiate level. Other programs across the country soon restructured their departments based on Mizzou’s model. 

Cerra’s impact transcended Mizzou’s campus. Her leadership helped advance women in sport nationwide as college programs gradually implemented Title IX on their campuses to expand opportunities for women. Cerra also led the charge to break away from the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) as one of 11 women who pushed the NCAA toward integrating female athletes and women’s teams into its national championships. She also helped found the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (CCWAA), now known as NACWAA – the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators. The organization supports and mentors more than 2,500 members.

Cerra, inducted into the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008, later spent 17 years in athletics administration at Barry University in her home state of Florida, including seven years as athletics director. The school won five national championships under her watch, three in women’s volleyball and two in women’s soccer.

Jean Cerra_Nike Lifetime Achievement

This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics