Point AD Jannelle White speaks to Lions Club

Published 12:30 pm Friday, November 24, 2023

VALLEY — Jannelle White is entering her third year as the athletic director at Point University. She talked about her journey as an administrator and how she got to West Point at Monday’s meeting of the Valley Lions Club.

White is originally from Lawrence., Kansas, where her dad was a track and field coach at the University of Kansas. She was gifted as an athlete as well. She played volleyball, basketball and ran track in high school and settled on volleyball as a sport to play in college. She could have done that at UK but decided to go to her dad’s home state of Alabama and to compete for Auburn University. She earned an undergraduste degree at Auburn in 1996 and a master’s in 2002.

As a major college athlete, she developed an interest in NCAA compliance. That specialty opened the door for her at a number of schools. She worked in compliance for more than 20 years at schools such as LSU, Middle Tennessee State, the University of South Alabama and at the University of Indiana-Purdue University at Indianapolis, often called Oooh-ee Poo-ee during March madness season.

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She married former Auburn football player Marcus White. Sidelined by injuries he completed his career at Murray State. The couple had four kids who are now 15, 12, 10 and 7 years of age. Sadly, Marcus passed away last year of a heart ailment.

As a former collegiate athlete with a strong background in compliance, White wanted to make the jump to athletic director three years ago. She started scrolling around online and came across a school named Point University. “I had never heard of it before but was intrigued by the name,” she said. “I liked it that it was in West Point, Georgia. I had gone past West Point many times on I-85 when going from Auburn to the airport in Atlanta.”

She contacted the school for an interview. With an excellent resume and superb interview skills, she landed the kind of position she had been looking for.

She absolutely loves being in the local area. It’s been difficult to face life without Marcus but it helps being in West Point and the Valley area. “This community has been so welcoming,” she said. “People have offered to help me with my kids. God knows where he wanted me to be, and I am here. It had been a wonderful experience for me and my family to be here.”

Point is a small college when it comes to on-campus enrollment. There’s approximately 500 students with 80 percent of them being athletes. The school is seeing a tremendous growth spiral when it comes to online education. Those numbers are now bumping up on 3,000.

The Skyhawks complete in 19 different men’s and women’s sports. These include men’s football, women’s flag football. men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s lacrosse, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming, cross country track and cheerleading.

Point competes in three different conferences. In football, it’s in the Appalachian Division of the Mid-South Conference. Other sports are in the Southern States Athletic Conference (headquartered in Montgomery). Some of the out-of-town trips in the Appalachian Conference can take 11 hours. Some conference member schools are in Virginia, the Carolinas and Tennessee. The trips aren’t as lengthy in the Southern States Conference, and all the championship games are in Montgomery, but Point is the only conference member that plays football. Dobbs Transportation in Lanett and K&S Transportation in Phenix City provide the bus rides to out-of-town games.

Point University is now in its tenth year in West Point. Football has been getting better over the past couple of years. “We have made a big improvement there,” White said. “We are coming along in the other sports as well. I’m really pleased with how our athletes are doing in the classroom. Our cumulative grade point average for all sports is 3.12 on a four-point scale. I’m well pleased that the vast majority of our student athletes have bought in to what we are doing here at Point University.”

Some of the coaches double as teachers and are popular with the students.

“I am hoping we can get into one conference,” White said. “Right now we are the only school in the Southern States Conference that plays football. I am hoping more members of our conference get into it. Flag football is an emerging sport, and everyone is excited about it. Ram Stadium in Valley has been a great venue for us to play in. The attendance for our games there has been good, and we are most appreciative of the support we are getting. Attendance has been good, too, at our events in West Point.”

Football is the only sport where there is an admission charge. It’s $12 per ticket, which is much less than going to any major college football game. Admission is free to all other Skyhawk sports.

“We target the local elementary schools,” White said. “We like to make visits there and to invite the kids to come to our games.”

Point doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, but almost all athletes receive some kind of financial support. Many of the students from Georgia are helped by the Hope Scholarship program and many students receive Pell grants.

White commended Robert Fawley for doing a great job with providing security for Point University events. “He’s done an amazing job for us,” she said. “We have security for every home event. I count on my coaches to behave themselves and to maintain order. They are good at that.”