About the Conference

Already a longtime leader in innovation and progressive thinking in the world of intercollegiate athletics, the Sun Belt Conference continues to establish itself as a force to be reckoned with on the playing field.

At no time has league athletic success been more obvious than during the course of the last several football seasons.  In recent years, Sun Belt members have participated in as many as six bowl games, a 50 percent increase in the league’s former high-water mark and only a decade removed from a “one-bowl league” moniker in its formative years. More importantly, Sun Belt teams didn’t just get to bowl games … they won them, again in record numbers.

Reaching back to the 2014 season, no conference has a better total bowl winning percentage (.611) than the Sun Belt Conference.  Further, the Sun Belt has won more games during that period (11) than its peers the American Athletic Conference (10) and the Mid-American Conference (6). 

All that success comes as the league begins a new tradition this year.  The conference split into divisions (East/West) for the first time in 2018 and will stage its first-ever championship game at the end of the regular season on December 1, 2018.  The game will be played at the home site of the team with the highest overall winning percentage and will be nationally broadcast on ABC or an ESPN network.

In addition, men’s basketball – the league’s symbol of success in its formative years – had its highest conference RPI in more than a decade with a No. 13 national finish, and conference members found success in several NCAA postseason events.

Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana, ULM, South Alabama, Texas State and Troy give the league 10 football members and enabled the Sun Belt to inaugurate divisional football play and stage a conference championship game in 2018. Little Rock and UTA compete as Sun Belt members in all sports other than football, helping give the conference a mix of the “old” and the “new.”

Just as important as on-field success, the Sun Belt’s commitment to academic excellence remains a league symbol. The league’s record book for grade-point averages and academic honors is a constantly-changing document, seemingly with each year’s success outdoing the previous year. This past spring, a record 23 league programs were recognized for outstanding performance in the classroom, with those teams earning NCAA Public Recognition Awards for APR scores in the top 10 percent nationally.  It was the third consecutive year the Sun Belt has broken its record for teams honored.

Position Overview

The Commissioner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Conference. The Commissioner will work with the Presidents, Chancellors and Athletic Directors of each member institution to create and implement initiatives and strategies designed to achieve the mission and vision of the Sun Belt Conference.

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Provide vision, leadership and sound decision-making with regard to all Conference matters including fiscal affairs, personnel, strategic planning, public relations and general operations.
  • With direction from the member institutions, help create and execute a strategic plan for the Conference.
  • Serve as the primary spokesperson for the Conference; enhance national and regional exposure for the Conference, including television, digital and public relations initiatives.
  • Negotiate and manage regional and national television agreements for regular-season packages as well as conference championship events to boost revenue and exposure.
  • Represent the conference at the national level in a way that enhances the perception of the Conference while fighting for the interests of the Membership.  Continue to improve the strong national reputation and brand of the Conference.
  • Execute strategies to position the conference in a favorable position as compared to its peers in light of the future of collegiate athletics.
  • Provide appropriate communication and guidance to various membership constituent groups, especially the Conference Presidents/Chancellors, on current events and the general pulse of the collegiate athletic environment.
  • In partnership with Member schools, enhance the overall student-athlete experience, to include conducting first-class events and championships as well as creating a Conference environment that supports student-athlete well-being. 
  • Serve as the principal enforcement officer of the NCAA and Conference rules, regulations and agreements.  The Commissioner has the duty and the power to inspect, to investigate, to determine violations, and to recommend penalties and sanctions against member institutions including their athletic staff members and their student-athletes for practices and conduct which violate Conference rules and regulations.
  • Serve as the Conference’s financial officer including contracting authority while managing the budget.
  • Manage and lead Conference office staff who attend to the day-to-day needs of the membership, including sports administration (e.g., scheduling, officiating programs, conduct of Conference championships and meetings).
  • With the support of the Conference office staff, the Commissioner will hire and manage regular-season and post-season officials.

Qualifications/Experience

  • Ability to cast a vision and mobilize support behind organizational goals.
  • Strong moral character and unwavering integrity.
  • Strong public relations, oral and written communication skills; the Commissioner must exhibit the ability to promote the distinctive qualities of the Conference in a proactive and professional manner.
  • Ability to serve as the public face and constantly represent the brand of the Conference.
  • Must possess national connections with NCAA and Conference officials.
  • Ability to build genuine relationships and position the conference favorably through those relationships.
  • Demonstrated experience as an effective manager and leader of an organization.
  • Substantial experience in collegiate athletics administration or equivalent experience in a related field.
  • Strategic planning and revenue generation experience preferred.
  • Keen knowledge and understanding of NCAA football and basketball.
  • Knowledge of and commitment to the rules and bylaws of the NCAA and Conference.
  • Working knowledge of branding, social media, television and multimedia platforms – experience in related contract negotiations.
  • Strong skills in financial management.
  • Working knowledge of gender equity and diversity initiatives.
  • Strong and consistent work ethic.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.

Application Process

The Sun Belt Conference invites nominations and applications or expressions of interest to be submitted to the search firm assisting the Conference.  Applications must include a cover letter, resume or curriculum vitae, and list of references. For full consideration, application materials should be submitted to Parker Executive Search’s website by February 12, 2019. Confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made.

For additional information, please contact:

Daniel Parker, Vice President and Managing Director
Hayden Garrett, Associate
Parker Executive Search
hgarrett@parkersearch.com
770-804-1996 x122

The Sun Belt Conference is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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