Jeff Jackson has been chosen to follow Doug Elgin as commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference that includes Bradley and Illinois State universities.
“There's no question some of the things that have transpired in this league have been unrivaled and Doug’s had a lot to do with that,” Jackson said Wednesday during his introductory media conference. “I’m looking forward to doing everything we can to enhance and improve the experiences of our student-athletes. I'm excited about the opportunity and looking forward to great things for the Missouri Valley.”
Jackson is currently the executive associate commissioner of the Big 12 Conference and previously served as deputy commissioner of the Big South Conference. A 1984 graduate of Cornell University, he officially begins his role as the Valley’s 10th commissioner on July 1.
“The Valley has a great story to be told and I think it's important that every day in our office, whether it's for me or the people who work with us in the office, that we're consistently telling that story,” he said. “Whether we're telling it to student-athletes, whether we're telling it to other institutions, whether we're telling it in a promotional aspect, I think all those things are important in trying to move the needle and getting people to understand just how much of a unique experience the Valley can afford our student-athletes.”
Elgin said he anticipates a seamless leadership transition as his 33-year tenure as commissioner ends.
“I think we're at a state where we are rising as a conference, and we're really looking forward to the new commissioner coming in and taking over as the leader of this group,” said Elgin. “We now find ourselves at a point where I do believe that we can achieve a lot of new things in the future.”
Jackson’s primary duties in his Big 12 position include serving on the league’s senior leadership team as well as overseeing men’s basketball and the conference, and directing the conference tournament. Elgin said he worked with Jackson on a college basketball officiating consortium run out of the Big 12 offices and was always very impressed by his work.
“I think I've gotten to know him a lot better over the last couple of weeks by telephone, and certainly I'm thrilled at what he brings to the Valley,” said Elgin. “The coaching experience that he's had is going to be invaluable in terms of moving the league ahead. I know he has a focus on those sports, but on the wider picture of athletic programs that are offered in our league, and I'm confident that he's going to raise the bar for this conference.”
Jackson played football at Cornell and had a 30-year career as a college basketball coach, including head coaching stints at New Hampshire and Furman, before moving into athletics administration in 2014. He said his coaching experience aids his ability to thrive as an administrator.
“I think ... the two reconcile nicely,” he said. “It gives me an opportunity to steer conversations and provide answers that maybe some other administrators want to look at in the same way, and I think during my brief tenure as an administrator, that's been a positive impact.”
Mark Nook, president of the University of Northern Iowa and chair of the Valley’s Presidents Council, said Jackson’s playing and coaching background factored in his selection.
“It really brings an understanding of the student-athlete experience. He was a student-athlete, he coaches these student athletes, he knows what they're going through,” said Nook. “His interaction with the NCAA, the committees he served on as well as his administrative work with the Big 12, were all really important. It helps us see that he's got a wide, real broad view of athletics at this level, and a real deep understanding of those levels as well. So, all of those are really critical to us.”
Jackson said he expects the Valley to remain open to the possibility of expanding in the future.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to improve what's going on within the walls of your conference, you want to be in a position to take advantage of it,” he said. “I think the Valley is going to be a great opportunity for some institutions that are looking to better what they can do from a perspective of their conference athletics, whether it's basketball, whether it's baseball, or whether it's volleyball. There's a host of sports in which Valley can create a positive experience for a host of different institutions.
“It's something that's going to be on our mind. But again, we've got 10 great schools right now and I think it's important that we do everything we can to make sure those schools are having a great experience. But if the opportunity presents itself, we certainly want to be in a position to take advantage of it.”
We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WCBU will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WCBU can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.