College Sports Solutions Tapped to Find Commissioner for Big Sky Conference

September 10, 2018 – Executive recruitment firm College Sports Solutions (CSS) has been selected to find a new commissioner for the Big Sky Conference, a Division I collegiate athletic league in the western U.S. The previous commissioner, Andrea Williams, moved on this summer to become chief operating officer of the College Football Playoffs. Jeff Schemmel, founder and president of the search firm, is leading the assignment.

The commissioner is the chief administrative officer and executive officer of the Big Sky Conference, which is based in Ogden, UT. The individual reports to the conference’s Presidents’ Council and works with the Conference Council to advance the mission and strategies of the conference, said CSS.

The role involves oversight of daily operations for the league office. Responsibilities include managing a diverse staff, both internal and external, and officiating coordinators; tracking and evaluating student-athlete experiences as they relate to safety, wellness and fairness; and providing vision, leadership and sound decision-making with regard to all association matters including but not limited to fiscal affairs, media rights, personnel, strategic planning, branding, conference alignment and external relationships, said the search firm.

The Big Sky commissioner is also charged with developing and implementing the annual conference budget, negotiating media rights agreements, executing the strategic plan as developed by member institutions, implementing policies and legislation as set forth by the conference governance groups, serving as spokesperson for the conference and serving as primary liaison to conference legal and litigation matters.

Job Requirements

Among other duties, the commissioner is expected to conduct annual business meetings as prescribed in the Big Sky code; evaluate sportslike conduct issues and determine appropriate penalties as prescribed in the Big Sky code; oversee the interpretation of conference and NCAA rules regarding eligibility, legislation and regulations; and perform other duties as directed by conference member institutions.

Related: Executive Recruiters Continue Their Expansion into the Sports Industry

Required for the job is a bachelor’s, master’s or other advanced degree, said CSS. The position also calls for a knowledge of and commitment to the rules and bylaws of the NCAA, substantial experience in collegiate athletics, experience and strong skills in financial management, demonstrated leadership, a reputation of maintaining integrity, strong oral and written communication skills, the ability to build consensus and working knowledge of television and multimedia.


Sports and Entertainment Expansion Elevating Search Business

Over the last 25 years, the sports sector has grown into a formidable global industry. Historically, professional sports teams operated on a relatively modest level, with league officials, team owners, managers, and coaches surrounding themselves with people they knew and trusted from their own small worlds. College sports teams relied on in-house search committees and word-of-mouth recommendations. Familiarity, however, can also breed contempt.

Teams with huge followings like the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid and Manchester United have seen their valuations soar into the billions of dollars. That’s attracted search firms – big time. Seasoned recruiters now provide strategic planning advice, in addition to talent identification services, with the capability of applying their findings to speed along the process in the hunt for talent. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.


Founded in 1963, the Big Sky Conference spans eight states. The conference sponsors championships in 16 sports, nine women’s and seven men’s, with about 4,500 student-athletes. The conference has 11 full members and four affiliate members (two football and two men’s golf). Big Sky full members include Eastern Washington University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Montana, Montana State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Northern Colorado, Portland State University, Sacramento State University, Southern Utah University and Weber State University. The two football affiliate members are University of California, Davis and California Polytechnic State University while the men’s two golf affiliates are Binghamton University and the University of Hartford.

Related: Recruiters Offer Sports Clients an Expanding Talent Platform

CSS is a leading full-service and integrated provider of collegiate athletic consulting, strategies and solutions to universities, intercollegiate conferences and collegiate organizations. The firm provides executive search services for coach and administrator searches.

A Veteran Recruiter

CSS clients run the gamut of collegiate sports institutions, including Auburn University, Alabama State University, Alabama A & M University, Boise State University, Brigham Young University, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Grand Canyon University, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, Oregon State University, Presbyterian College, Tulane University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Central Missouri, University of Houston, University of Minnesota, University of New Mexico, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), University of North Carolina (Charlotte), University of Northern Iowa, University of South Dakota, University of South Florida and University of Utah.

Mr. Schemmel directs all business development and intercollegiate industry relations and provides hands-on services. Prior to launching CSS, he was the managing director of the college division of JMI Sports.

With over 25 years of intercollegiate athletics management experience, Mr. Schemmel is a former athletic director who has served in key leadership positions within the NCAA, the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA and at schools in the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. He was director of athletics at San Diego State University from 2005 to 2009. During his tenure, he negotiated the school’s first comprehensive apparel/equipment contract with Nike and was responsible for hiring and retaining many of the school’s successful coaches and administrators.

Related: Executive Recruiters Prove Invaluable to Thriving Global Sports Sector

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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