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Movers and Shakers: Gloria Nevarez

Movers and Shakers: Gloria Nevarez

Gloria Nevarez, a twenty-five-year veteran of intercollegiate athletics, is the second commissioner in the history of the Mountain West Conference

Photo by Justin Tafoya and Jamie Schwaberow

Gloria Nevarez, a twenty-five-year veteran of intercollegiate athletics, is the second commissioner in the history of the Mountain West Conference. She currently serves on the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee; the NIT Men’s Basketball selection committee; the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee; the Board of Directors of USA Basketball and Women Leaders in College Athletics; and is a member of the Knight Commission.

She 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.

Nevarez comes from the West Coast Conference (WCC), which she joined initially in January 2022 to direct the conference’s compliance efforts for five years, before returning in 2018 to serve as commissioner. She shaped nearly every facet of its internal and external operations; directed significant overhauls to the conference’s branding, which expanded the league’s national television contracts and added a long-term title sponsor for the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments; and launched groundbreaking social justice initiatives.

In her second full year with WCC, 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 with the groundbreaking “Russell Rule” adopted in July 2020. This rule required 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.

The beginning of Nevarez’s career was at the University of California, where she started as the lone compliance officer and handled legal matters and departmental contracts. She became an executive officer for the department and its twenty-nine intercollegiate athletics teams, conducting NCAA and Pac-10 rules education workshops for student-athletes, coaches, and department staff on an annual basis. She notably helped conceive and run the first Cy-Bear auction, raising more than $180,000.

Nevarez later became senior associate athletic director at the University of Oklahoma. She was also the sport administrator for men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s cross country and soccer; and men’s and women’s track, field, and 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 eventual return to WCC, Nevarez served as the senior associate commissioner and senior woman administrator at the Pac-12 Conference, where she led all-star teams to China and Australia and brought conference teams to China for the first-ever NCAA regular season game. She was also instrumental in league expansion, relocation, and success, as well as developing international initiatives and advancing sustainability efforts.

Nevarez received her JD from the University of California and graduated from the University of Massachusetts (cum laude, as a four-year scholarship athlete, and a letter-winner in basketball). She also graduated from the NCAA Fellows Program and the NACWAA Executive Institute, and taught sports law as an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management master’s program for five years.

A native of Santa Clara, California, Nevarez is married to fellow Berkeley Law graduate Richard Young.

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