University of Mobile Alumna Sarah Thomas, Super Bowl’s First Female Official, to Speak at May Graduation

Kathy Dean News

MOBILE, Ala. – University of Mobile graduate Sarah Thomas, who shattered glass ceilings in the world of sports and became the first female official to work a Super Bowl, will deliver the commencement address at her alma mater on May 8.

“We are extremely proud of all that Sarah Thomas has accomplished, and we look forward to welcoming her back to the campus where her career started as a Lady Ram,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett.

A 1995 graduate, Thomas played basketball at the University of Mobile from 1992 to 1995. During that time, the Rams won 61 games, including two seasons with a 13-3 record in Gulf Coast Athletic Conference action. Thomas helped guide the 1992-93 team to a District 30 Championship and a berth in the NAIA National Championship.

She was a two-time GCAC All-Academic selection and a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete in 1995. For her career, she totaled 779 points, 411 rebounds, 108 assists and 192 steals, currently sitting at fifth all-time in steals

She decided to become an official in the 1990s after attending a coaching meeting with her brother. Then, in 1996, she became the first female to officiate a Division 1-A high school football game in Mississippi. In 2007, she became the first female to officiate college football games, and in 2009, she became the first female to officiate a bowl game.

In 2015, she became the NFL’s first full-time female game official. On Feb. 7, 2021, she served as a down judge for Super Bowl 55.

Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. on the Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Great Commission Lawn in front of Weaver Hall on the University of Mobile campus.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning public relations professional and former journalist with a strong background in strategic communications, feature writing/story-telling, copywriting and editing. She serves as assistant vice president for university communications. Kathy joined the University of Mobile marketing/public relations staff in 1993 and has earned awards for writing, public relations and advertising, including twice receiving the grand prize for feature writing from the Baptist Communicators Association. She serves on the board of the John M. Will Scholarship Foundation, awarding scholarships to promising student journalists; and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.