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Southland announces Chris Grant as new commissioner

Chris Grant has been named the new commissioner of the Southland Conference.
Chris Grant has been named the new commissioner of the Southland Conference.(Southland Conference)
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 12:40 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 2:38 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Chris Grant has been named the new commissioner of the Southland Conference.

The announcement comes a day after reports that the Southland would move on from Tom Burnett as its commissioner after 19 years. Burnett, who is also currently serving as chair of the NCAA’s Division I Men’s Basketball Committee – will move into a role as full-time senior consultant to the commissioner and the Board of Directors after the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament concludes.

The league said Grant, the deputy commissioner, would immediately begin acting as commissioner. Then, on Thursday, Grant was named commissioner.

Grant is the conference’s first African-American commissioner.

“As we look ahead, we are truly excited that Chris will be leading us at a time of unprecedented change, and opportunity, in college athletics,” Jay Clune, president of Nichols State University and the chair of the conference’s governing board, said in a statement. “A former student-athlete who has served at nearly every level of college sports and succeeded everywhere he’s gone, he has the right mix of innovative spirit, determination, and openness to collaborate that a strong commissioner needs.”

Burnett will remain as commissioner during a transition period until the spring. Also the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Chair, Burnett will be a senior consultant to Grant and the Board of Directors.

Grant joined the Southland Conference as deputy commissioner in August. He has served as associate commissioner of sports management and championships for the Pac-12 Conference and was director of sports services for Conference USA, and assistant athletics director for Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Grant was a four-year football letterwinner at Kentucky State University, from which he graduated cum laude and on the AD’s honor roll.

“I am humbled by the responsibility being entrusted to me by our conference presidents, and I am determined to live up to their expectations,” Grant said. “This is a time of great upheaval in college sports, but also one that, if we work together and navigate it successfully, is a time of great opportunity for our schools and, most importantly, for our student athletes.”

Grant and his wife, Marie-Therese, a former standout volleyball student-athlete at the University of Texas at El Paso and currently the vice president of strategic accounts at Thrive Global, reside in Plano, Texas, with their goldendoodle, Bash.

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