COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Gloria Nevarez, a 25-year veteran of intercollegiate athletics, has been selected as the second Commissioner in the history of the Mountain West Conference, it was announced today by the MW’s Board of Directors Chair Garnett Stokes. Nevarez will officially assume her duties on January 1, 2023, following the retirement of long-time MW Commissioner Craig Thompson.
Since 2018, Nevarez has served as the Commissioner of the West Coast Conference (WCC), leading a transformation of the WCC and its member institutions in athletics, academics, diversity and inclusion, and marketing and branding.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Gloria will lead our membership into the future during a critical and challenging period in intercollegiate athletics,” Stokes said. “We had an impressive pool of candidates, but in the end, Gloria had the vision, the experience, the desire and the ability to elevate our league and our twelve member institutions. She will be a great leader for the Conference and take us to unprecedented heights, after working closely with Craig in the upcoming transition. On behalf of the MWC Board of Directors, we welcome Gloria and her husband, Rick, to our family.”
Nevarez previously worked at the Pac-12 Conference, the University of Oklahoma, the University of California Berkeley, San José State University and in a prior stint with the WCC. She serves on the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee, the NIT Men’s Basketball selection committee and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, as well as on the Board of Directors of USA Basketball, Women Leaders in College Athletics and is a member of the Knight Commission.
“I am honored and humbled to be trusted to lead one of the nation’s elite athletic conferences, and I want to thank the Board of Directors for their belief in me and in my vision,” Nevarez said. “We are well-positioned as a league thanks to the incredible legacy of Commissioner Thompson, but we cannot—and will not—rest on our success. We will be aggressive, we will be innovative, we will be inclusive and we will keep our focus on the student-athletes who call the Mountain West Conference home. I cannot wait to visit our campuses, our Conference staff, and our fans, and to begin the work ahead.”
Since becoming Commissioner of the West Coast Conference, Nevarez has shaped nearly every facet of the internal and external operations of the WCC, directing major overhauls to the conference’s branding, expanding the league’s national television contracts, adding a long-term title sponsor for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and launching groundbreaking social justice initiatives.
Directed by Nevarez, the WCC embarked on a comprehensive rebranding initiative to bring consistency across all platforms. After an exhaustive and collaborative six-month review with WCC stakeholders, the brand, reflective of the mission and values of the WCC schools was refreshed with a new brand identity. In her second full year on the job, Nevarez renegotiated the media rights agreement for the conference, resulting in unprecedented levels of national exposure for the league, including an updated eight-year agreement with ESPN and the addition of two national television partners in CBS Sports and Stadium. The exposure of WCC’s men’s basketball has nearly doubled from coast-to-coast.
The WCC became the first Division I conference to adopt a diversity hiring initiative, the groundbreaking “Russell Rule” adopted in July of 2020, requiring all WCC schools to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the final candidate pool for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coaching search.
Nevarez returned to the WCC following a successful stint as the Senior Associate Commissioner, Senior Woman Administrator at the Pac-12 Conference. In her role, Nevarez oversaw all conference sports and championships except football, while also serving as the conference liaison for men’s basketball and tournament director of the men’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas. Nevarez led all-star teams to China and Australia and brought conference teams to China for the first-ever NCAA regular-season game. During her tenure at the Pac-12, Nevarez was instrumental in league expansion, the relocation and success of both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the creation and operation of the Pac-12 Networks, the development of international initiatives and advanced the conference’s sustainability efforts.
Prior to joining the Pac-10 staff, Nevarez served as Senior Associate Athletic Director at the University of Oklahoma. Her responsibilities were wide-ranging, including sport administration duties and overseeing the department’s strength and conditioning, marketing and human resources units. She also served as the sport administrator for men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, soccer, men’s and women’s track and field, softball and women’s rowing. Nevarez served Oklahoma as the Senior Woman Administrator and oversaw the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the department’s Staff Council, Title IX compliance and worked with the fundraising group, the Sooner Stilettos.
Before her time at Oklahoma, Nevarez spent five years working in compliance at the West Coast Conference, joining the conference in January of 2002. During her first stint at the WCC, her primary emphasis was to direct the conference’s compliance efforts. In that role, she was involved in education efforts at all member institutions as well as in the league office. She assisted the schools with their individual certification efforts, violations, waivers and rule interpretations.
Prior to the WCC, Nevarez was at the University of California, where she served in multiple roles. She was the lone compliance officer and served as an executive officer for the department and its 29 intercollegiate athletics teams. She conducted NCAA and Pac-10 rules education workshops for student-athletes, coaches and department staff on an annual basis. Nevarez was also involved with legal matters that involved the department, including lawsuits, serving as the department’s campus liaison in those matters. She was responsible for processing all departmental contracts, including game contracts, and served as the department’s campus contact for all athletic-related contracts.
Nevarez began her athletics administrative career at San José State University, where she was the first full-time Director of Compliance in school history and developed and implemented an NCAA compliance program.
A graduate of the NCAA Fellows Program and the NACWAA Executive Institute, Nevarez completed five years as an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Master’s program, teaching sport law.
Nevarez received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California. While a student, she served on the La Raza Law Journal and was a co-founder of the Boalt Hall Sport and Entertainment Law Society. A four-year scholarship athlete and letter-winner in basketball at the University of Massachusetts, she graduated cum laude from UMass. She served on the board of advisors for the UMass sports management department, a division of the Isenberg School of Business.
A native of Santa Clara, California, Nevarez is married to fellow Berkeley Law graduate Richard “Rick” Young.