Vaibhav Sharma, Photo Editor and Yale Athletics

Yale’s newest athletic administrator, Anthony Henderson, Sr., started this month as the department’s third deputy director of athletics.

Henderson is filling the role of Wayne Dean, who died in November 2020 after serving Yale for 34 years. Henderson will now serve alongside Yale’s current deputy directors of athletics, Ann-Marie Guglieri and Mary Berdo, to form the “Senior Leadership Team” that advises Vicky Chun, Yale’s director of athletics. 

Like many who work in Yale Athletics, Henderson was a student-athlete in college. He played football at Hampton University and knew that he wanted to work in sports after graduating.

“If it weren’t for my ability to play football, I don’t know if I would have attended college,” Henderson said in a phone interview with the News. “I wanted to… provide opportunities for those individuals that may not be able to attend institutions of higher learning but for their ability to play sports. I would say that [sports] changed the trajectory of my life — that’s why I’m passionate about what we do.” 

His first athletic role after graduating was coaching high school football and substitute teaching at his alma mater, Powhatan High School, from 2001 to 2003. He went on to complete a Master’s in Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he also completed an externship at Disney as a sports marketing associate. After graduating, Henderson got his first job in marketing at the Mideasetern Athletic Conference (MEAC), which includes many historically Black colleges and universities. The MEAC’s commissioner, Dennis Thomas, was the former AD of Hampton, Henderson’s alma mater.

This would lead him to a marketing role at the Jordan Brand, where he ran the Jordan Brand Classic, one of the most prestigious basketball events for elite high school players from across the nation. Henderson noted that Michael Jordan was actually very hands-on with the Jordan Brand Classic, coming in to assist three or four days before the game. But soon after, Henderson realized that he needed a change.

“I missed college athletics — I realized that’s where my passion was,” he said.

In 2008, he became the assistant director of athletic development at Old Dominion University, where he increased donor membership by 37 percent in 2009 and another 15 percent in 2010, according to his LinkedIn.

Henderson followed this role by serving at the University of Akron for eight years and most recently at William & Mary University for two years.

“He made work fun and he’d stand up to every challenge,” Larry Williams, who was the athletic director at Akron when Henderson worked there, said in a Thursday phone interview. “Anthony was just a tremendous colleague … he has a sort of authenticity about him that will have people really excited to have him as part of the community.”

When the deputy AD role opened up at Yale, Henderson said he connected with Chun through Samantha Huge, who is the former AD of William & Mary. Huge and Henderson talked about what Chun and Yale were looking for, he said, and Yale found a fit with his background in marketing and fundraising. 

“We talked about what Vicky’s vision was for the position, what she was looking for, and fortunately enough, I checked a lot of those boxes,” Henderson said.

Now an official member of the department, Henderson said he will work alongside Guglieri and Berdo to oversee divisions within the athletic department and ensure synergy between them, taking responsibility for strategic planning around “student-athlete well-being and performance excellence, student programming, facilities, operations, department policies and procedures, fiscal management and external affairs.” He told the News his individual area of oversight is external affairs. The trio also serve as program administrators for one or more varsity teams — Henderson supervises baseball, men’s soccer, women’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s swimming & diving.

“We are thrilled to welcome Anthony to the Athletic Department,” Yale’s Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella said. “His background and experience will be an aid to our external relations team in addition to being a resource for all of our staff, coaches and student-athletes.” 

As he settles into his new role, Henderson is excited about seeing Yale athletes back on the field. In regards to non-athlete Yale students, he said he would love receiving their feedback on athletics — how to better engage them, how to get them at games and how to improve the fan experience.

“You don’t really know how much you miss something until it’s taken away — the last 18 months, not having sports or being able to compete,” Henderson said. “Just seeing young people get back to doing what they love to do is what I’m excited about.”

Henderson officially started his role at Yale on Sept. 9.