Conference USA makes history again with first woman commissioner in FBS


MCLEODConference USA made its second historic hire in less than a decade on Monday, Naming Judy McLeod the first woman commissioner of an FBS league.

“I can’t tell you how excited and fortunate I feel to have this opportunity … it’s really a humbling day for me,” she said during a teleconference. “To me, it’s a people business. The people in this business have not treated me different from day one. I think it’s all about relationships, how you work with people, how you treat people.”

In 2007, Sarah Thomas made history in Conference USA as the first female to officiate a major college football. Thomas became the NFL’s first full-time referee this year.

“Nobody’s going to put more pressure on me than me,” McLeod said. “I need to do a great job for our 14 universities and their students-athletes. I’ve had some outstanding mentors. Most of them have been male. But they have never held me back. I have been very fortunate.”

John R. Broderick, president of Old Dominion University and Conference USA Board of Directors Chairman, said McLeod was a unanimous choice to replace Britton Banowsky, who officially stepped down on Sept. 15. McLeod, who has been serving as interim commissioner, is the third commissioner in C-USA’s 20 years.

“Judy earned all of our respect and admiration during the many years she served as associate commissioner,” Broderick said. “She is well-respected nationally and will be a strong voice for the conference on issues regarding the many important challenges and opportunities facing intercollegiate athletics. The Board of Directors and the Search Committee are delighted she will now lead us.”

McLeod said she looks forward to facing a number of challenges.

“In the short term, we’re in the middle of negotiations for our television agreements,” she said. “Hopefully that will wrap up in the next couple of months. “The national landscape of college athletics is unsettled as well. We take them one at a time.”

ASN is a broadcast partner with C-USA.

With 14 schools in nine states, McLeod said another priority is getting the schools and communities to know each other better. For example, Charlotte and Southern Miss are charter members of C-USA, which formed in 1995. However, the schools played each other in football for the first time ever on Saturday.

Another top priority she said is becoming a multi-bid league for the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. She said C-USA is reviving two focus groups to look at scheduling.

“We’ve got to schedule more aggressively until we have multiple teams in the top 100,” McLeod said. “I think our teams are probably better than the perception, so we need to work on changing that.”

McLeod joined C-USA in September 2005 after 10 years as athletic director at Tulsa. Her responsibilities have included the oversight of sports services, compliance, academics and business affairs, in addition to general oversight of conference operations and serving as the liaison to the Board of Directors and the Directors of Athletics.

She was recently appointed to the new NCAA Division I Nominating Committee and will serve a two-year term as Chair of the Committee. In June 2012, McLeod was appointed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and ended her term following the 2014-15 season.