Janet R. Cone, Director of Athletics, Receives the Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award from WomanUP

L:R - Janet R. Cone,  UNC Asheville, receives the Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Jessica Juergens, First Bank. 
November 16, 2022

Janet R. Cone, Director of Athletics at UNC Asheville, was recently recognized for her outstanding community contributions at the annual WomanUP Awards ceremony hosted by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce.

Cone received the Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by First Bank, which recognizes women who have distinguished themselves in business, leadership, and service throughout their careers. 

Since her arrival in 2004, Cone has transformed Bulldogs Athletics as one of the premier Division 1 programs among medium-sized public universities. Currently competing in the Big South conference, UNC Asheville student-athletes excel on the field and court as well as in the classroom. This past year alone, student-athletes achieved a 96 percent graduation rate and an overall GPA of 3.176. In addition, seven of the 16 varsity teams earned a perfect score of 1,000 in the NCAA academic performance standard known as the APR, or Academic Progress Rate.

In addition to her continual focus on student-athlete welfare and academic excellence, Cone has worked tirelessly to improve gender and racial equity and inclusion within Bulldog Athletics. As part of this, she recently spearheaded a holistic approach to student-athlete success with the creation of the “Be a Top Dog” program.

Facilities improvement has also been a hallmark of Cone’s leadership. Most notably, the construction of the Wilma M. Sherrill Center and Kimmel Arena was completed during her tenure, and the expansion of the Karl Strauss Track Facility is currently in progress. 

Cone’s professional commitments locally and nationally are impressive as well. Currently, she is serving on NACDA’s Executive Committee and as the first Vice-President of the I-AAA ADA, and she recently completed her five-year commitment to serving on the NCAA DivisionI Men’s Basketball Committee that selects teams for March Madness. Outside of her work at UNC Asheville, Cone helped establish the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, was a former chair, and is serving as a founding member.

The Suzanne DeFerie Lifetime Achievement Award adds to a distinguished list of previous awards and recognitions.

In 2019, Cone was honored with the I-AAA Athletics Directors Association (ADA) Builders’ Award. In 2013, she was honored as one of just 28 Directors of Athletics to be named an Under Armour AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). 

UNC Asheville recently extended Cone’s contract through May of 2024.