Southland extends agreement with Commissioner Tom Burnett
FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference’s presidential Board of Directors has extended its employment agreement with Commissioner Tom Burnett through June 30, 2022, the league office announced Tuesday. Burnett, who was named to the post in late 2002, recently became the longest-tenured commissioner in the Southland’s 55-year history, surpassing the term of former league leader Dick Oliver, who served in the position from 1971-1987.
“The Southland Board of Directors is very pleased to provide a contract extension for Tom Burnett, now the longest-serving commissioner in league history,” said Dr. Dana G. Hoyt, President of Sam Houston State University and Chair of the Southland Board of Directors. “The presidents continue to recognize the Southland’s steady growth under his watch, including an unprecedented expansion of television coverage, the recent development of a conference-wide strategic plan, the increased quality of championship events, and improvement in the collective academic standing and well-being of Southland student-athletes.”
“It’s been a tremendous privilege to serve the Southland Conference’s membership over this period of time,” said Burnett, the Southland’s seventh commissioner since its founding in 1963. “I am honored by the Board’s continued confidence in the terrific work of our staff that strives to assist and better our institutional athletic programs, and enhance the academic and athletic opportunities of our 4,200 student-athletes on a daily basis.”
With nearly 30 years in conference administration, Burnett has helped to enhance the Southland’s membership with the additions of multiple universities in recent years that give the Southland 13 members in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, including members in or near major metropolitan areas such as Houston, San Antonio, New Orleans and Little Rock. Burnett also led a successful community-wide effort to bring the NCAA Division I Football Championship Games to the Southland’s home base of Frisco, Texas, as the league has served as the host conference for the national title contests at Toyota Stadium since 2011. The NCAA has subsequently renewed the agreement twice to keep the national championship game in Frisco through the 2020 event.
He is also a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee that manages the administrative and selection processes for the national championship event, including oversight of the Men’s Final Four. Burnett has served on 10 various NCAA committees and councils during his Southland tenure, including the Division I Committee on Academic Performance and Football Academic Working Group. He is a member of the Board of Managers for College Football Officiating (CFO), LLC, an entity created by the NCAA and the Collegiate Commissioners Association to enhance and address college football’s officiating matters. Burnett is also a member of the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame’s Awards Committee, the NFF’s Divisional Honors Court, and the organization’s Football Matters Board of Directors. He formerly served on the Board of Directors for NCAA Football, and was the FCS Vice President for the Collegiate Commissioners Association in 2007-08.
He also initiated the Southland’s football officiating consortium with the Big 12 Conference in 2007, a first of its kind dual program that combined singular training, observation, video review and development, a model followed by many other Division I conferences today. In 2014, the Southland became the first FCS conference to implement full-time instant replay for all football games, regardless of television coverage.
A native of Houston, Burnett spent 11 years in a number of roles with the Sun Belt Conference in New Orleans, and previously worked at the American South Conference and Louisiana Tech University, where he also graduated from in 1988. He and his wife Tracy have a son, Cole, and daughter, Jesse, both students at the University of Oklahoma.
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