Kentucky State University alumnus makes history as first Black Southland Conference commissioner

Kentucky State University alumnus makes history as first Black Southland Conference commissioner

A Kentucky State University alumnus recently made history after being named the first Black Southland Conference commissioner.

Chris Grant, a former Kentucky State University student and football player, will take the helm of the Southland Conference after current commissioner Tom Burnett departs to become a full-time senior consultant role of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee at the conclusion of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

Grant joined the Southland Conference in June as the deputy commissioner, according to a news release from the conference. 

“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 Nicholls State University and the chair of the conference’s governing board, said in a Southland Conference news release. “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.” 

Before coming to the Southland Conference, Grant served as associate commissioner of sports management and championships at the Pac-12 Conference, director of sports services at Conference USA, and assistant athletics director at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“Chris has the perfect mix of experience as a leader – both as a student-athlete and as a conference administrator – that will make him a superb commissioner,” Steve Moniaci, athletic director at Houston Baptist University, said in the Southland Conference news release. “When you put that together with his personal commitment to innovation and his ability to work with others, it really is a recipe for success. I know all of the Athletic Directors are looking forward to working with Chris as we continue striving to make this one of the premier athletic conferences in the country.” 

Grant said in the release that he is humbled by the responsibility entrusted to him and is determined to live up to expectations. 

Based in Frisco, Texas, the Southland Conference includes eight members in Louisiana and Texas and sponsors 19 NCAA Division I sports, with NCAA Championships automatic berths in 12 applicable team sports.

Click here to read the full Southland Conference news release.