A trio of administrators with nearly three decades of experience in their current posts have been appointed to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. The five-year terms begin Sept. 1 for Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett, Richmond Director of Athletics Keith Gill and Northwestern Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips.
Burnett has been at the Southland Conference for more than 14 years and has extensive experience serving on various NCAA committees, including the Division I Management Council, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, the Baseball Rules Committee and the Division I Committee on Academic Performance. He also has served on the Board of Managers for Women’s College Basketball Officiating. Burnett, who was at the Sun Belt Conference in various roles from 1991 to 2002, served as the public and media relations chair for the New Orleans Local Organizing Committee that helped stage the 2003 Men’s Final Four.
A native of Houston, Burnett is a 1988 graduate of Louisiana Tech, where he studied journalism while working as a student assistant in the sports information office. Upon graduation, Louisiana Tech hired him as an assistant sports information director. Burnett also spent two years at the American South Conference before joining the Sun Belt Conference staff as the director of communications in 1991. Four years later, he was named assistant commissioner and then was promoted to associate commissioner in 1999 before moving to his current role in 2002.
Burnett is the second administrator from the Southland Conference to serve on the men’s basketball committee, joining University of Texas at San Antonio Athletics Director Lynn Hickey, who served from 2008 to 2012.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be appointed to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, and I look forward to representing the Southland Conference in this position, serving with so many other accomplished professionals and working with an outstanding group of NCAA staff,” Burnett said. “It’s a humbling privilege to be directly involved with one of the world’s greatest sporting events, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Gill is a 1994 graduate of Duke, where he lettered in football four years. He joined the NCAA staff in 1995, working for four years in membership services before leaving for one year to serve as athletics director at Vanderbilt. Gill returned to the NCAA national office in 2000 as director of membership services. In 2004, he was named senior associate athletics director at Oklahoma, where among his other duties he oversaw the men’s basketball program. After three years at Oklahoma, during which he earned his master’s degree, Gill was named director of athletics and recreation at American, where in his first season, the Eagles won the Patriot League title to earn their first trip to the Division I men’s basketball tournament. American repeated the feat the next season.
Gill accepted his current position at Richmond in 2012, and during his tenure he was named the FCS Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year and was elected as vice chair of the NCAA Division I Council and co-chair of the NCAA Ad Hoc Transfer Issues Working Group. He is the first administrator from Richmond to serve on the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.
“It’s an incredible honor to be appointed to represent the University of Richmond and the Atlantic 10 Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee,” Gill said. “I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work with one of the most popular and successful sporting events. I’m excited to work with the tremendous people that serve on the committee and the NCAA national office staff.”
Phillips, who has been head of the athletics department at Northwestern for nearly nine years, is a 1990 graduate of Illinois and holds a master’s degree from Arizona State, where he served as a restricted earnings coach for a period in which the Sun Devils reached the postseason in five consecutive seasons. Phillips also holds a doctorate in educational administration from Tennessee. He served as assistant athletics director at Tennessee from 1998 to 2000.
In 2000, Phillips moved on to Notre Dame, where he was elevated to the position of senior associate director of athletics for external affairs. Four years later he was named the athletics director at Northern Illinois, where he remained until accepting his current position in 2008. While at Northern Illinois, he was promoted to vice president, was named the 2007 General Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director of the Year and served on the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee. Phillips has been chair of the Division I Council for the past two years. Phillips is the third administrator from Northwestern to serve on the committee, joining A.C. Lonborg (1947-50) and Waldo Fisher (1962-67).
“It is an enormous understatement to say I’m honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve the NCAA, its member institutions and our student-athletes in this role,” said Phillips. “The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the most thrilling events in all of sports, and earning an invitation is what each of our 351 schools competes so fervently for throughout the winter and spring. Basketball is where my career began in college athletics, and the game holds an incredibly special place in my heart. Very candidly, I can’t wait to begin serving this fall alongside the already dedicated and talented selection committee that currently is in place.”
“The Big Ten applauds the NCAA’s selection of Jim Phillips as a member of the DI Men’s Basketball Committee,” Big Ten Conference Commissioner James E. Delany said. “Jim has done an outstanding job representing the conference as chair of the DI Council for the past couple of years, and we are confident that his experience with the sport, and as an administrator, will allow him to contribute to this committee in a significant way.”
Burnett, Gill and Phillips will replace Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis, Northeastern Athletics Director Peter Roby and Brigham Young Athletics Director Tom Holmoe, whose terms expire in August. The rest of the committee will consist of 2017-18 committee chair Bruce Rasmussen, the director of athletics at Creighton; Mitch Barnhart, the director of athletics at Kentucky; Janet Cone, the director of athletics at the UNC Asheville; Paul Krebs, the director of athletics at New Mexico; Bernard Muir, the director of athletics at Stanford; Jim Schaus, the director of athletics at Ohio; and Kevin White, the director of athletics at Duke.