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Northwest Conference

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Northwest Conference (NWC)


The Northwest Conference (NWC), formed in 1926, is an NCAA Division III collegiate athletic conference, making it one of the oldest athletics conferences in the western United States. Since moving from NAIA to NCAA Division III in 1998, the NWC has established itself as one of the most competitive NCAA Division III conferences in the United States, having won 10 NCAA Division III National Championships. The conference sponsors 19 sports programs in football, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, men's and women's track and field, men's baseball, women's lacrosse, women's softball, and women's volleyball.

The NWC exists to promote, organize, and supervise intercollegiate athletics competition among member institutions in a way that encourages competition to be equitable, fair, amicable, enjoyable, and educational. Consistent with the philosophy, values, and goals of its members and the NCAA Division III, the conference provides for equitable treatment of all student-athletes, ensures every sport is valued, and places importance on participation and reaching one's potential. Members of the NWC wholly embrace the NCAA Division III "student first" philosophy by ensuring that institutions place the overall educational experience and successful completion of academic programs above all else. Comprised of nine private colleges and universities in Oregon and Washington, the NWC is competitive and recognized for its emphasis on academic excellence. Current institutional members include Lewis & Clark College, Linfield University, George Fox University, Pacific University, Willamette University from Oregon, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Puget Sound, Whitman College, and Whitworth University from Washington.

The Position

The Northwest Conference seeks a strategic, collaborative, innovative leader to serve as the next commissioner. As the chief executive officer of the conference and a non-voting member of the president's council, the commissioner provides general and active management of the conference's affairs and manages all operational, financial, and legal matters. The commissioner will provide leadership to the Northwest Conference to ensure that intercollegiate athletic activity on the campuses of member institutions is consistent with the philosophy, rules, and regulations of the NWC and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III.

The new commissioner is responsible for leading strategy development as well as day-to-day conference operations, including but not limited to guiding and supporting the governance process and strategic planning; development of sport schedules and championships; overseeing all NCAA and conference compliance and eligibility; awards and recognition programs; budget development, forecasting, revenue generation, and grant management; marketing, branding, and promotions of the conference and its philosophy; and the supervision of conference employees. The commissioner is expected to represent and advance the academic and athletic prestige of the conference, especially in policy and membership discussions at the NWC and NCAA Division III levels. The commissioner will lead the decision making and direction of the conference in collaboration with the president's council (institution CEOs) and the board of athletics administrators (athletics directors and senior woman administrators) and is an essential liaison to the NCAA and other national organizations. Additionally, the commissioner will provide leadership and support for conference standing committees, the faculty athletic representatives (FAR), senior woman administrators (SWA), compliance administrators, student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC), certified athletic trainers (ATC), sports information directors (SID), sports committees, and other administrative groups. The conference office may reside on a member institution campus or remotely within the conference footprint of Oregon or Washington. The conference commissioner is expected to travel frequently.


A bachelor's degree, significant, progressive professional experience related to NCAA athletics or a similar field, and a commitment to the values, standards, and expectations of Division III athletics are required. An extensive and accomplished background in collegiate athletics, collegiate-level coaching, conference management experience, and a master's degree in athletics administration or a related field are preferred. The successful candidate will possess a comprehensive understanding of intercollegiate athletics administration, conference marketing and membership development, and NCAA compliance within a Division III environment. The next commissioner should be able to mentor and inspire the professional development of conference staff, commit to upholding the quality of academics and academic integrity, and demonstrate strategic planning acumen. A collaborative management approach, coupled with superior communication and relationship-building skills; a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social responsibility; strong planning and fiscal competencies; familiarity with technology, program development, and assessment; and excellent problem-solving abilities are also desired.

Application and Nomination

The Northwest Conference has retained the services of Spelman Johnson, a leading national executive search firm, to assist with leading this search. Review of applications will begin on February 6, 2024, and continue until the position is filled. A resume with an accompanying cover letter may be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at Nominations for this position may be emailed to Dell Robinson at or Anne-Marie Kenney at Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

The anticipated hiring range is $125,000 - $130,000 annually, commensurate with education and experience. NWC offers its employees a comprehensive benefits package.

Visit the Northwest Conference website at

The Northwest Conference is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is committed to creating a community in which a diverse population can learn, live, and work in an atmosphere of tolerance, civility, and respect for the rights and sensibilities of each individual without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, medical condition, age, military service status, or any other status.

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