By Keisha J Kelley
The Southwestern Athletic Conference has named Reginald Thomas its new Associate Commissioner for Administration. Thomas is an experienced intercollegiate athletics administrator with an extensive background in operations, budgeting, academics, compliance and overall athletic program leadership.
“I am honored and so excited to join Dr. Charles McClelland and the Southwestern Athletic Conference on this journey towards building a greater brand for the league and its member institutions,” said Thomas.
“With the rich history of the SWAC and the great legacies of athletic, academic excellence and service to its membership, the future of the SWAC is unlimited. I look forward to working in partnership with our member institutions and business partners to provide our student-athletes, alumni and fans the best experience possible.”
Prior to joining the SWAC, Thomas was a vital part of the athletics management team at Bethune-Cookman University for the past ten years. His tenure was highlighted by the past five years of service in which he served in the role of Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services.
Thomas brings to the Conference Office a unique array of experiences ranging from his student-athlete career as a four-year letterman for the Clark-Atlanta University football team, to his role at his alma mater as a Graduate Assistant football coach, followed by a stint as Graduate Assistant to the Academic Advisor and Director of Compliance from January 2009-July 2010.
In August 2010, he was appointed Assistant to the Assistant Athletic Director of Athletics Compliance. After serving three years as the Assistant Director for Compliance and Eligibility Specialist, Thomas was appointed as the Assistant Athletic Director in charge of NCAA and institutional compliance at Bethune-Cookman. He was also charged with the responsibility of leading an office of five, including two full time staff members and two graduate assistants while also having direct involvement with over 300 student-athletes.
In his time as Assistant Athletic Director, Thomas implemented an innovative program that instructs coaches on the rules within the NCAA. He also served on the B-CU Athletics Executive Leadership Staff. His work has been honored by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), as well as by former B-CU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lynn Thompson as the staff member of the year.
Thomas was instrumental in creating several dynamic rules education and academic advising presentations and seminars which are used to communicate with faculty, staff and departments on the university campus and Volusia County area.
In his most recent role, he was responsible for overseeing the Office of Student-Athlete Services which comprised two departments including the academic support staff and NCAA compliance staff as well as game day operations. Their role was to ensure B-CU coaches, staff, student-athletes, boosters and the B-CU community were continuously educated and following NCAA, MEAC and institutional rules and regulations.
Annually under his leadership, Thomas conducted rules education workshops for the university Board of Trustees and the University Cabinet to ensure complete compliance.
In addition to serving as the senior executive responsible for coordinating all academic support efforts for all 17 of B-CU’s sports programs, Thomas also served as chair of the MEAC Compliance Officers for the past two years at the conference level.
While at Bethune Cookman University, Thomas served as the principal investigator for the successful receipt of the $900,000 NCAA AASP Grant, and secured over $250,000 in supplemental funding to support athletic programs and support services. He also was responsible for managing several budgets and restricted funding sources.
Thomas was also tasked with successfully navigating B-CU through its mandatory NCAA APR Program Data Review, which is a data review process mandated for all NCAA Division I institutions. The goal of the APP Data Review Process is to ensure the uniformity and accuracy of the Institution’s Academic Performance Program (APP) data.
A strong advocate for the student-athlete experience, Thomas developed and secured funding for several new programs to enhance student-athlete development, including the Bethune-Cookman University Office of Student-Athlete Services Academic Support Investment Center which is an elite academic support and personal development facility dedicated to serving student–athletes.
Many of the initiatives developed and implemented under his tenure include the Career Development program for student-athletes, and the WILDCAT P.R.O.’s Program which reconnects former Wildcats back to the program in their various areas of professional experience ranging from professional sports to financial planning and law enforcement.
Thomas is a 2017 NCAA Leadership Institute graduate, which provided high level programming to assist ethnic minorities in strategically mapping and planning their careers in athletics administration by providing professional development programming over the course of a calendar year. The Institute combined the in-person sessions, continuing education activities and the extensive Leadership Institute alumni group to enhance and master participants' skill sets while also exploring and planning for future career goals and paths.
A member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Thomas also owns a Master's Degree in History. He and his wife Kirbi, are the proud parents of two daughters Skylar Grace (3) and new-born Ryleigh Simone.