Big West Conference Names Dan Butterly as New Commissioner
Dan Butterly has been named the fifth commissioner of the Big West Conference. He will start on June 1 to transition alongside Dennis Farrell, who will officially step down on July 1 following a 40-year career with the conference, including 28 years as Commissioner.
Butterly is the Senior Associate Commissioner of the Mountain West Conference, where he has worked for the last 21 years. He serves as the primary sport and championship administrator for Mountain West men’s basketball, acting as liaison between coaches and institutional administrators, athletic directors, Joint Council, and Board of Directors on all men’s basketball-related issues.
“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Big West universities look forward to working with Dan Butterly,” said Jane Close Conoley, president of California State University Long Beach and chair of both the search committee and Board of Presidents and Chancellors. “He is visionary, highly respected, and experienced, and his strong commitment to academic and athletic success makes him a great match with our conference’s values.”
During Butterly’s tenure with the Mountain West, he has served on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee, NCAA MCBO Board of Managers, the NCAA Football Promotions and Brand Marketing Committee and the branding committee to name and create the brand image for the new College Football Playoff. He is currently the chair of the College Football Playoff licensing committee.
“I am honored to be selected by the Big West Conference leadership to serve as its next commissioner,” said Butterly. “My family and I are excited to represent the Big West and its elite member institutions. The member institutions in the Big West reside in the most innovative cities in the nation, and I want to help foster innovation and research into our approach.
“College athletics face significant challenges and I look forward to working with the Big West Conference staff and our institutional leaders to develop a direction that puts our student-athletes in the best position for success, both in the classroom, and in competition. As college athletics reset, it is a time for the Big West to reestablish our brand and how we fit not only nationally, but within the region, our cities and our fan bases.”
Butterly’s extensive experience includes working with all Mountain West broadcast entities on the development of the basketball schedule, member institutions on non-conference schedule strategy and improvement, and on matters related to technology, research/data/analytics, game management, officiating, and instant replay. Butterly also works in tandem with sponsorship rights holder Learfield Sports on all aspects of the Mountain West corporate partnership program and serves as a point-of-contact for all MW partnership items.
He also has handled tournament manager duties for the 2004 (1st/2nd), 2008 (1st/2nd), 2011 (2nd/3rd) and 2016 (1st/2nd) NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship sites, as well as the 2012 NCAA Women’s Final Four at Pepsi Center in Denver.
“Dan Butterly is one of the most organized, detail-oriented, and driven collegiate administrators I’ve worked with,” said Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson. “He leaves nothing for chance and is meticulous in his actions whatever the project, whether that’s running championships, scheduling or television negotiations. I have appreciated all his efforts and contributions to the Mountain West Conference for the last 21 years.”
Butterly, a native of Washington, IL, directs the continual development and expansion of the Mountain West Radio Network, which currently produces weekly football and basketball shows, as well as every game of the MW Basketball Championships. He has been directly involved in marketing, licensing, merchandising, and branding throughout his Mountain West tenure.
Prior to its partnership with CBSSN, Butterly served as executive producer of the MWC-TV Network (2000-06), which broadcast regular season women’s volleyball and women’s basketball events, as well as women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, and women’s basketball championships.
Butterly, who received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and his Masters of Sports Administration degree at Ohio University, arrived at the Mountain West after nearly six years with the Missouri Valley Conference (The Valley). He joined The Valley staff in 1993 as a marketing intern and was promoted to director of marketing in 1994, then to assistant commissioner in 1998. His duties at The Valley included managing the league’s corporate sponsorship efforts, overseeing the merchandising and licensing program and administering marketing and promotions for all conference championships. He managed the rebranding of the Missouri Valley and transition to “The Valley” logo which is still utilized today.
“Dan Butterly takes over the leadership of the Big West Conference at a very challenging time, but he is an experienced administrator who has prepared his entire professional life for this opportunity,” said Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin. “Dan has had important roles at both the Missouri Valley and Mountain West in more than 25 years of service in conference administration. His abilities in overseeing major events, marketing and promotion, and broadcast management will serve his new league well. With this hire, the Big West has positioned itself well to follow the veteran leadership of the long-time and highly-respected commissioner Dennis Farrell.”
In addition to his Missouri Valley marketing duties, Butterly coordinated the league’s schedule and officiating for men’s basketball. He served as the Tournament Manager for the MVC men’s basketball championship from 1994-99 and the Game Management Director for the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Men’s Basketball Midwest Regionals hosted by the MVC in St. Louis. The 1999 NCAA Midwest Regional set a then all-time attendance record for the largest regional crowd in NCAA history. Under his guidance, the MVC Tournament more than doubled sponsorships, as he worked day-to-day with over 175 MVC sponsors.
Steve Alford, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Nevada, has worked in tandem with Butterly for over two decades during their affiliations with the MWC and MVC, which also included coaching stints at the University of New Mexico and Southwest Missouri State.
“I couldn’t be happier for Dan and I’m ecstatic for him and his family,” said Alford. “He has a great knowledge of the dynamics of college athletics and how it works. He is a great people person. His overall experience on the national level will really be beneficial to the Big West.”
Butterly and his wife, Alaine, also an Illinois State University graduate, have a daughter, Jessica, a current student at Ohio University.
Collegiate athletics consultants College Sports Solutions (CSS) and Buffkin/Baker headed the new commissioner search. Jeff Schemmel, president of CSS and lead consultant, helped the search committee transition from a traditional series of face-to-face interviews into an all virtual process.
“We had to be innovative, thorough, and detailed in our approach to all interviews. We knew we were blazing a new trail in Division I athletics while facing the circumstances brought about by COVID-19,” said Schemmel. “The willingness of the search committee members and the CEOs to adapt to the Zoom format and participate in the same fashion as in person speaks highly of them.”
Butterly joins the Big West after the conference just completed its 51st year in operation. The conference sponsors 18 sports, offering consistent academic and athletic excellence moving into its sixth decade of existence.
The Big West has claimed 19 team national championships, including six in women’s volleyball, two in baseball, one in softball, one in men’s basketball, one in men’s soccer, and most recently, back-to-back titles in men’s volleyball (2018 and 2019) by Long Beach State.
Individually, Big West student-athletes have captured 30 individual national titles, several of which have gone on to compete in international competitions such as the Olympics.
As the Big West’s fifth Commissioner, Butterly follows in the footsteps of Farrell (1992-2020), Jim Haney (1988-92), Lew Cryer (1978-88), and Jess Hill (1972-78).