Chris Grant named Southland Conference Deputy Commissioner
Veteran Administrator Comes to Southland from Pac-12 Conference
FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference has named Chris Grant, a veteran athletics administrator with a successful campus and conference office background, as Deputy Commissioner. Southland Commissioner Tom Burnett made the announcement Tuesday, and Grant, currently the Associate Commissioner of Sports Management and Championships at the Pac-12 Conference, will begin his new role in the coming weeks.
“We are thrilled to have Chris Grant join the Southland Conference team,” Burnett said. “Chris brings an outstanding set of skills and experiences to the league, and he will be a tremendous asset to the Southland’s future operations. As a former standout student-athlete, coach and administrator, both on campus and in two conference offices, Chris will provide our membership with outstanding service, and strategic and innovative thinking with a focus on student-athlete and program success.”
Grant’s role at the Southland will include direct involvement and oversight of all league operations, including NCAA governance and affairs, championships administration, diversity and inclusion, and serving as a staff liaison to the Conference’s administrative leadership groups, including the presidential Board of Directors, the operating Advisory Council, and subgroups such as faculty athletic representatives, athletics directors, and senior woman administrators. He will also oversee men’s and women’s basketball operations, including, but not limited to, developing competitive and academic success strategies, scheduling, interaction with administrators and coaches, officiating, and senior oversight of the Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. Grant will also be involved in the guidance and execution of the Conference’s strategic efforts, and provide necessary assistance with financial operations, office administration, officiating matters in all sports, and external affairs.
At the Pac-12, Grant oversaw eight conference sports and championships, while also serving as the director of the women’s basketball tournament. During his tenure at the Pac-12, Grant took a progressive approach to elevate Olympic sport championships and was instrumental in the relocation and success of the women’s basketball tournament to Las Vegas, establishing a neutral site championship for women’s gymnastics in Salt Lake City, and adding championship tournaments for women’s tennis and beach volleyball. Grant has presided over one of the most successful stretches in Conference history for Olympic sports, with the Pac-12 having won 57 NCAA championships during his time. Grant also was the primary Olympic sport liaison to Pac-12 Networks and ESPN for scheduling and maximizing exposures while managing the execution of Pac-12 television rights and restrictions.
Grant also led significant diversity efforts by collaborating with the Pac-12 Women’s Volleyball Coaches to establish the Diversity Mentorship Program which aims to strengthen the pool of minority candidates for collegiate coaching positions, and he initiated and chaired a dual oversight committee with Major League Baseball to address student-athlete and diversity issues in college baseball at the Autonomy Five conference level.
“I am excited to join the Southland Conference leadership team and begin working with Tom Burnett, his staff, campus administrators, coaches and student-athletes as we move toward some exciting developments in the league,” Grant added. “My collegiate experience inspired my focus on prioritizing the well-being of student-athletes by providing the transformational resources they need to become trailblazers in life.”
Before his six-year stint at the Pac-12, Grant spent three years as the Director of Sports Services at Conference USA. In that role Grant served as the primary sport administrator for six (6) Conference sports: men’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, indoor track & field, women’s golf, and outdoor track & field. He also served as the liaison to the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Director of the C-USA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Grant played a critical role in the most recent realignment of C-USA and also served as a liaison on the C-USA Student-Athlete Health & Safety subcommittee. Grant was appointed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Committee for a three-year term in 2013. His campus experience includes a three-year stretch as an Assistant Athletics Director at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and he also served as a men’s basketball graduate assistant coach while earning his master’s degree in Public Administration from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy at Southern University located in Baton Rouge, La.
Grant graduated cum laude from Kentucky State University where he was a four-year football letter winner and an AD’s honor roll recipient. A 2011 graduate of the NCAA Leadership Institute, he has also served as a guest lecturer and featured panelist at numerous industry events including his role as the emcee of the annual NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum. In 2019, Grant was the keynote speaker for the Opening Ceremony at the Federation of University Sports China (FUSC) Collegiate Games in Beijing, China.
Grant, a native Ohioan, is the son of veteran collegiate basketball coach, Michael Grant and Charmane Grant. His uncle, Gary Grant, was the 1988 Big Ten Player of the Year at the University of Michigan and played in the NBA for 14 seasons. Grant and his wife, Marie-Therese, a former standout volleyball student-athlete at UTEP and currently the Director of Customer Success at Thrive Global, will be relocating to Frisco with their goldendoodle, Bash.
Eastman Beaudine assisted in the Southland Conference’s search process.
What Others are Saying About Chris Grant…
Bernard Muir, Stanford University Athletics Director
“What a tremendous hire for the Southland Conference. I’ve had the good fortune to watch Chris work in the PAC-12 and he’s clearly a rising star within intercollegiate athletic circles.”
Judy MacLeod, Conference USA Commissioner
“The Southland Conference has made a tremendous hire in Chris Grant as its next Deputy Commissioner. With his enthusiasm and energy, Chris will provide great leadership and service to the membership in meaningful ways. His drive, dedication to positively impacting student-athletes and ability to build relationships will flourish as he works to advance the initiatives of the conference.”
Gloria Nevarez, West Coast Conference Commissioner
“I am thrilled for Chris and the Southland Conference. Chris brings a genuine passion for enriching the student-athlete experience throughout his career. During our time working together at the Pac-12, Chris helped position the conference for sustained success. I wish him all the best as he moves into this new leadership role at the Southland Conference.”
Tim Duncan, University of New Orleans Vice President and Athletics Director
“I have known Chris Grant nearly a decade, shortly after he arrived at the Conference USA office, and have always admired his intelligence, passion, energy, and level of connectivity he has throughout Intercollegiate Athletics. His experiences as a student-athlete at Kentucky State, on campus as an administrator, and within two conference offices will allow him to hit the ground running at the time the Southland Conference and its member institutions need it the most. All of #NOLAsTeam is enthusiastically ready to meet and aid in his transition to Deputy Commissioner.”
Theresa Gould, Pac-12 Senior Associate Commissioner, Sports Management & Institutional Services
“At this critical time in NCAA intercollegiate athletics, the Southland Conference has made an exceptional choice in hiring Chris Grant as its Deputy Commissioner. Chris is a rising star in our business who will bring a tremendous amount of versatility as a leader to the job. He is a ‘people first’ administrator who builds strong and collaborative relationships and excels at creating consensus among the stakeholders he serves. Chris is passionate about our mission and utilizing sport as a vehicle for young people to develop into the next generation of great leaders. I look forward to seeing the impact that he will have on the conference.”
Tommy McClelland, Vanderbilt Deputy Director of Athletics for External Affairs and Revenue Generation
“I have known Chris for nearly 10 years and he is one of the finest individuals I have ever met. More importantly, he is an incredible administrator. He has a very unique skill set that allows him to connect on a personal level with those he works while remaining incredible focused on the task at hand. He is a rising star in the athletics industry and Tom Burnett hit a home run with this addition to his staff.”
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