Tom Brown, the long-time commissioner of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, recently was awarded the 2011-12 Award of Merit by the NCAA Division II Conference Commissioners Association.
The DII CCA Award of Merit is the association’s highest level of recognition. It is presented annually to an individual who has provided extraordinary service to the DII CCA and the NCAA.
Brown, the 14th person to receive the award, was the longest-serving commissioner in the history of the GLIAC when he retired in June 2009. Brown was named GLIAC commissioner July 15, 1992. At that time, there were 10 full members in the conference, all in Michigan. The GLIAC currently boasts 12 full members and two associate members spread across the Midwest in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Most recently, Brown oversaw the addition of the third member institution from Ohio when Tiffin University was granted membership in 2008.
Brown’s association with the GLIAC began in the early 1970s when he helped to form the league while serving as the assistant to the president at then Northwood Institute. With his assistance, Northwood became one of the founding members of the GLIAC when it began play in fall 1972. Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University and Saginaw Valley State University were also founding members of the conference.
Under Brown’s leadership, the conference grew to offering championships in 20 sports (10 men’s and 10 women’s) while rising to prominence on the national level as GLIAC teams and student-athletes achieved success both in the classroom and on the fields of play.
“The GLIAC has prospered under the leadership and guidance of Commissioner Tom Brown, becoming one of nation’s premier NCAA Division II conferences,” said Ferris State President David Eisler at the time of Brown’s retirement. “Tom’s unique background and experience as an athlete, athletic director, and university president have made him a superbly qualified and effective commissioner.”
Before joining the GLIAC, Brown served as president of Northwood University from 1979-82. His presidency capped off a long association with Northwood that began in 1963 when he joined the institute as an assistant professor of mathematics, athletic director, business manager and men’s basketball coach. Other positions Brown held at Northwood were director of finance and operations (1972-74), executive vice president (1974-76), and chancellor/chief operating officer (1976-79).