Meet Tom Burnett
With an accomplished record in collegiate athletics administration reaching over three decades, including achievements in NCAA Division I conference office operations and high-level NCAA Committee service, Tom Burnett serves as President/CEO of Southwest Sports Partners, LLC.
As chief executive of Southwest Sports Partners, Burnett brings hands-on and oversight experience in championship event administration, financial matters, board management, membership governance, media and public relations, and television rights negotiation and production. Known as a creative and strategic planner, Burnett has a proven ability to communicate, develop relationships, build consensus, address challenges and solve problems, and effectively direct, motivate and develop staff.
Burnett served as commissioner of the Frisco, Texas-based Southland Conference from 2003-2022, becoming the longest tenured leader in the NCAA Division I league’s six decades of existence while providing a focus on the academic, competitive success and overall well-being of student-athletes. Additionally, he led the Southland to exponential growth in television coverage during his tenure as commissioner, including negotiating the league’s first multi-million dollar broadcast contract.
He also led the successful community-wide effort to bring the NCAA Division I Football Championship Games to Frisco, as the Southland has served as the host conference for the national title contests at Toyota Stadium since 2011. The NCAA has subsequently renewed the agreement three times to keep the championship game in Frisco minimally through the 2026 event. In his new role at Southwest Sports, Burnett remained involved with the 2023 FCS Championship Game, serving as the Team Frisco local organizing committee’s host director.
Burnett served on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee from 2017-22, providing administrative oversight of March Madness, including the annual Men’s Final Four. Following the Covid-19 shutdown of tournament in 2020, he assisted with the return of the tournament in 2021’s controlled environment in Indianapolis, and as chair of the committee in 2022, helped lead its return to its traditional presence across the country, including the Final Four in New Orleans. Burnett's term was also marked by the move from the longstanding Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) system to the current metric known as the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), and the committee also expanded in his final year from 10 to 12 members.
He has made multiple media appearances on CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports, the SEC Network and in the pages of The New York Times, USA Today and the Dallas Morning News. In 2022, he was honored by the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame with its Legacy Award for extraordinary contributions to the organization and its mission of Building Leaders Through Football.
Prior to his service at the Southland Conference, Burnett worked in various roles at the Sun Belt and American South conferences from 1989-2003. A native of Houston, Burnett is a 1988 graduate of Louisiana Tech University, where he studied journalism and served one year as sports editor of the campus student newspaper. He and his wife Tracy reside in McKinney, Texas, and have two adult children, son Cole, a student at the University of North Texas, and daughter Jesse, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and a first-year pharmacy student at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Dallas.
Beth Chapman, an attorney with an extensive background in NCAA compliance, has associated with Southwest Sports Partners, LLC, to provide the new athletics consulting firm a series of compliance and internal review services.
Based in Dallas, Chapman has 30 years of experience in the NCAA compliance and enforcement area. In 2004, she established The Chapman Law Firm after serving as Associate Commissioner for Compliance & Legal Counsel for the Southland Conference for eight years. She regularly conducts on-campus and virtual compliance, Title IX, and DEI reviews of Division I and II institutions, advises on compliance and student-athlete eligibility matters, participates in NCAA investigations, and provides interim compliance officer services.
“Beth Chapman’s addition to Southwest Sports Partners’ family of consultants expands the menu of services our company can deliver,” Burnett said. “Her comprehensive NCAA legislative, compliance, and infractions knowledge is basically unsurpassed, and we are excited to provide her broad expertise to our valued partners, including compliance, academic, and DEI reviews.”
Over the last 20 years, Chapman has represented dozens of Division I institutions and individual coaches, student-athletes, and parents in Level I and II NCAA Enforcement and Independent Accountability Resolution Process investigations and hearings.
She continues to serve as the Southland's outside counsel, regularly working with members’ presidents, athletics administrators, and coaches. Her past experience also includes 13 years of consulting with The Compliance Group, where she conducted NCAA reviews and represented Power Five conference institutions in investigations and hearings before the Committee on Infractions.
Chapman also served on the Division I Management Council, the Progress Toward Degree Waivers Committee, and several Division I Certification teams; chaired the Walter Byers Scholarship Committee; and was Vice President of the National Association of Athletics Compliance Coordinators.
Chapman began her compliance career in the Office of Athletic Compliance at Texas A&M University and later supported major NCAA infractions investigations at Bond, Schoeneck & King. She is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas.