Alumni Spotlight

Kara LawsonAs you sat and watched the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, you probably didn’t realize that you were watching a fellow College of Business Administration graduate. As a 2003 University of Tennessee graduate in finance, Kara Lawson wore orange and white years before donning the red, white, and blue for the United States Women’s Basketball Team. During her time at UT, Lawson was named a Kodak All-American, UT Basketball Athlete of the Year, first-team All-SEC, and a Naismith Award honoree. However, Lawson excelled not just on the court, but in the classroom as well. She was recognized as a Verizon Academic All-American; academic All-SEC; received the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholars Athlete of the Year award; graduated magna cum laude; and was a recipient of the university’s highest student honor, the Torchbearer’s Award. She was a member of the Financial Management Association and the TVA Investment Challenge. She was president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, a member of the UT Athletics Board, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership team.

A native of Washington, DC, Lawson was a gifted student from the beginning. She entered kindergarten reading at the fourth-grade level and went on to score a 1,370 on her SATs. In addition to playing youth football (running back and linebacker), Lawson led the West Springfield High School girls’ basketball team to state titles in 1997 and 1998 with undefeated seasons (30-0). She went on to be named the Naismith High School Player of the Year and Virginia Player of the Year, proving her commitment to excellence. When Lawson joined the Lady Vols Basketball Team, she proved that level of dedication once again. While at UT, she helped lead UT’s Lady Vols to a 126-17 record that included four Southeastern Conference titles. Her team advanced to the 2002 Final Four and the 2000 and 2003 championship games. She started in 137 out of 143 games and went on to be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

In 2003, Lawson was the number-five pick of the WNBA draft, being picked up by Detroit. However, just five days later, she was traded to Sacramento, where she has remained for six seasons. She averaged 11 points a game last year as well as averaging two assists, earning her first All-Star game spot. She made her Olympic debut in Beijing this summer as part of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that won the gold.

When Lawson isn’t on the court, she stays busy as a member of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings’ broadcasting team as well as working for ESPN as an NBA sideline reporter. Additionally, she’s remained connected to the NCAA by working as a studio analyst for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Somewhere in the middle of all of these accomplishments, she found the time to plan a wedding to her now husband, Damien Barling, a DJ who she wed this spring. After an April 12th wedding, the couple honeymooned in Los Cabos, Mexico, before returning to an Olympic test event on the 19th!

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