Courtesy of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Commissioner Dennis Thomas will enter his seventh year as commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference on September 1, 2008. Under his dynamic leadership, the conference has solidified its financial stability, implemented a website for the Basketball Tournament (www.meachoops.com), improved the main conference website (www.meacsports.com), to be more interactive for the membership, fans and supporters, negotiated a seven-year television package with ESPN to broadcast Football, Men & Women's Basketball and other sports events, and also televised for the first time in conference history the 2003 championship baseball game live, between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman College at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex (Cracker Jack Stadium), the 2005 volleyball championship and the 2006 softball game between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman.
He presented a new conference mark (Logo), and established and televised Thursday night primetime for Women's Basketball, 8 p.m. for the 2003-04 season. Additionally, the Commissioner has implemented a Highest Graduation Award for the member institution with the highest graduation rate for the academic year. The institution that receives the honor will receive $25,000.
Dr. Thomas has been persistent and hardworking to increase Corporate America investment with the MEAC. He has brought on board Russell Athletic Corporation, Delta Airlines, State Farm, NIKE, Wachovia and ESPN. Thomas was instrumental in negotiating the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in football beginning with the 2005 football season with ESPN, which will provide the MEAC participating institutions with national television exposure and financial guarantees. This energetic administrator brings over 30 years of athletic and higher education experience to the MEAC.
His most recent accomplishment was the successful guidance of the Hampton University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. As Athletics Director, Hampton University athletics excelled on and off the field of competition. In his twelve (12) years of service, Dr. Thomas guided Hampton from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I. Hampton was one of the few institutions who made the transition a successful one.
Dr. Thomas' leadership and managerial skills among national and local organizations have not gone unnoticed. During the 2001 season, Thomas served as Chairman of the NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee. He also served on the NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee and is a board of director member of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Thomas is a member of theFootball Champion SubdivisionDirector of Athletics Association and was previously on the Executive Committee. He was awarded the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics (NACDA) Athletic Director of the Year Award for the Southeast Region for IAA/AAA in 2002. Thomas is also a member of NCAA Division I Leadership Council, the NCAA I-FCS Governance Committee and the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee. He is the past chair of the NCAA Division I-AA Commissioners Association. He also serves on the NACDA Executive Committee, selection committee for the General Sports Turf Systems AD of the year awards program and the NACDA John McLendon Memorial Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Awards selection committee.
The Heidelberg, Mississippi native was a letterman in football and track and field in high school and at the age of 16, embarked upon a collegiate career that is still in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) record books. In 1974, he made history as the first and only offensive lineman to be named the Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He finished his collegiate football career as a three-year letterman, a two-time Pittsburgh Courier First Team All-American, First Team Black Mutual Sports Network All-American, and Outstanding College Athletics of America (1974).
Thomas was also an honor student in college. On December 12, 2003, Thomas was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame. Thomas coached and played under the legendary Marino H. Casem (Godfather) while at Alcorn State. In 1978, the state legislature of Mississippi issued a proclamation proclaiming April 8 as the Dennis and Johnny Thomas Day (brothers) in the state for their achievements in scholarship, athletics, and leadership.
Thomas is a 1974 graduate of Alcorn State University, a 1975 graduate of Northeast Louisiana University (master's) and a 1984 graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (doctorate). He was selected Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities in 1974 as an undergraduate and in 1983 as a graduate student.