Arabie Conner is in her 13th year at the helm of Ottawa University’s athletic department. The previous 12 years have brought many accomplishments for the Braves: 416 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes, 100 NAIA All-Americans, 237 KCAC Players of the Week, 958 All-KCAC selections, 18 teams have earned regular season KCAC Championships, and 11 have won KCAC Tournament Championships.
The OU athletic teams have excelled in the classroom as well. From 2007-2018 119 teams were named NAIA Scholar Teams. Under her watch the Ottawa University Athletic Department has been named a Five Star Champions of Character Institution 10 times.
There have been 17 coaches have been named KCAC Coach of the Year, two have been named KBCA College Coach of the Year and two have earned region coach of the year. Under Conner, the football team qualified for six straight NAIA playoffs (2009-2015), won the KCAC Championship in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014 and hosted two NAIA Playoff games (2010, 2011). The women’s soccer team won back-to-back KCAC regular season championships (2009, 2010), won the 2015 and 2016 KCAC Championship, and has qualified for the NAIA National Tournament seven times (2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). The women’s cross country team qualified for the 2013 and 2014 NAIA National Cross Country Meet. OU’s women’s volleyball team won the conference championship in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017. They also won the conference tournament in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and made NAIA Women’s Volleyball National Tournament appearances in all five of those seasons. The OU softball team won the KCAC Championship in 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2017. Softball captured the KCAC Tournament Championship in 2010 and had made four appearances at the NAIA Softball National Championships (2006, 2010, 2014, 2017). The OU women’s golf team won the program’s first KCAC Championship in 2016 and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament. The women’s lacrosse team, in its first year of existence, won the KCAC Regular Season Championship in 2016 and qualified for the NAIA National Invitational Tournament in 2017. The men’s volleyball team earned a trip to the NAIA National Invitational Tournament in 2017 and 2018.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams have each reached the Sweet 16 of the NAIA Division II National Tournament. The men’s team made back to back appearances at the NAIA National Tournament (2006-07, 2007-08) for the first time in program history. She was named KCAC Athletic Director of the Year in 2010-11, 2015-16, and in 2017-18. Conner earned the athletic department’s and KCAC’s first Under Armour AD of the Year Award (ADOY) in 2016-17. There has also been sports added in her time as leader of the athletic department with the addition of women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s wrestling, the re-instatement of men’s tennis, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s bowling, and men’s and women’s powerlifting.
For the past 10 years Conner has been involved with the KCAC Executive Committee for Governing Council including two years as chair. She is currently serving on the NAIA National Administrative Council (NAC) as the KCAC representative. As a member of NAC she serves on the Rules and Ratings committee and is currently serving on the NAIA/NAC National Rating Oversight Committee for Football and Women’s Basketball (NAIA Division II).
Before being named Athletic Director Conner spent 11 years as the head women’s basketball coach at Ottawa University, stepping down after a record breaking 2006-07 season. Conner finished as the all-time winningest coach in Lady Brave history with 162 victories. She earned the Kansas Basketball Coaches Associations Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year award 2003-04 and again in 2006-07. In 2004, 2006 and 2007, Conner led the Lady Braves to the KCAC Basketball Tournament Championship and to the NAIA Division II National Tournament. She also helped OU to its first ‘Sweet 16’ appearance at the NAIA National Tournament in 2007.
Conner graduated from William Jewell College in 1992 with a degree in health/exercise science and English. She was a four year letter winner on the basketball court for the Cardinals, earning HAAC Player of the Year in 1991. Conner is fourth all-time in career scoring (1,893). Conner also played softball and soccer for WJC and after her playing days, she was an assistant coach on the women’s basketball team. Conner was named William Jewell Athlete of the Year twice and was inducted into William Jewell’s Hall-of-Fame in 2004.
Conner earned a master’s degree in sports administration and sport psychology from the University of Kansas. She has been an associate professor in the OU Physical Education department, taught in the Liberal Arts Studies Program and is the first female athletic director in school history.
Conner resides in Shawnee, Kan. with her husband, Tim, and their children Cole (18), Kylie (16), Zoey (14) and Brodie (13).