Updated: Oct 31, 2022
New Athletics Consulting and Events Services Firm led by former Conference Commissioner and NCAA March Madness Chair Tom Burnett
(L to R): Frisco Mayor Pro Tem John Keating, Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant, Southwest Sports Partners, LLC, President/CEO Tom Burnett, and Hunt Sports Ventures Vice President John Wagner mark the startup of Southwest Sports Partners on Oct. 20 in Frisco, Texas.
FRISCO, Texas – Southwest Sports Partners, LLC, a consulting and events services firm, has announced its debut in the burgeoning sports capital of Frisco, Texas, home to multiple sports organizations and events. Led by former NCAA Division I conference commissioner Tom Burnett as its President/CEO, Southwest Sports Partners is a turnkey agency uniquely positioned to provide successful guidance and assistance for the operational needs of sports-related clients and communities.
Southwest Sports will manage several services for its partners such as sports events planning, operations and hospitality, executive-level consultation, employment advisement, and strategic planning and execution. Further, the company will offer specialized athletics research and data review, public relations and other media services, financial reviews and benchmarking, athletics compliance and governance, and student-athlete issues such as college eligibility and name, image and likeness.
“We are very proud to announce the start-up of Southwest Sports Partners, and so excited to bring extensive conference and national administrative experiences and perspectives into the athletics consulting and services space,” Burnett said. “We look forward to building partnerships at all levels as we expertly help our clients find their sports solutions through our relationship-based and values-driven efforts.”
Burnett led the Frisco-based Southland Conference as commissioner from 2003 through early 2022, and notably coordinated the recruitment and annual operations of the successful NCAA Division I (FCS) Football Championship Game played at Frisco’s Toyota Stadium. Additionally, Burnett recently served as a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee that oversees March Madness and the Final Four. He chaired the group in 2021-22 as the national tournament returned to its traditional format following the Covid-19 pandemic.
He grew the Southland’s television coverage exponentially during his tenure, including multiple national agreements with ESPN Networks, and formalized the league’s corporate sponsorship efforts that led to new revenue streams and unprecedented exposure. Burnett also initiated the Southland’s football officiating consortium with the Big 12 Conference in 2007, a first of its kind dual program that combined singular training, observation, video review and development, a model followed by many other Division I conferences today. And in 2014, the Southland became the first FCS conference to implement full NCAA football instant replay for all home games. Burnett has also served on 10 NCAA committees, councils and working groups.
A native of Houston and a 1988 graduate of Louisiana Tech University, Burnett previously worked on the administrative staffs of the Sun Belt and American South conferences following his career start in the Louisiana Tech athletics department.
In addition to the Southland, Frisco is also home to sports organizations affiliated with the National Football League (Dallas Cowboys), the National Hockey League (Dallas Stars), Major League Soccer (FC Dallas), Major League Baseball (Texas Rangers/Frisco RoughRiders), the National Basketball Association (Dallas Mavericks/Texas Legends), and the newly relocated PGA of America. Known widely as “Sports City, USA,” Frisco also serves as the homebase for the National Soccer Hall of Fame, the Toyota Soccer Center and U.S. Youth Soccer.
Along with the NCAA Football Championship Game, Frisco also serves as home to the Frisco Bowl, the U.S. Army Bowl, and the Conference USA and Lone Star Conference basketball tournaments. During the Covid pandemic, Frisco played host to the 2021 National Invitation Tournament and recently conducted much of the 2022 Big 3 Tournament at Comerica Center. As part of the PGA of America’s relocation, Frisco’s East Course at Fields Ranch will play host to the Senior PGA Championship in 2023, the Women’s PGA Championship in 2025, and the PGA Championship in 2027.
“We look forward to Southwest Sports interacting and contributing to the ever-expanding sports community here in Frisco, throughout North Texas and beyond,” Burnett continued. “This region continues to grow exponentially, and sports continues to be a quality-of-life driver that makes this community and region so special.”
Burnett and his wife Tracy have two adult children, Cole and Jesse, and have lived in North Texas since 2003.
For more information on Southwest Sports Partners, log on to www.swsportspartners.com, or follow on Twitter (@SWSPartners) and LinkedIn (linkedin.com/swsportspartners). Burnett can also be reached directly at email@example.com.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT SOUTHWEST SPORTS PARTNERS & PRESIDENT/CEO TOM BURNETT:
BOB BOWLSBY, FORMER COMMISSIONER, BIG 12 CONFERENCE: “Southwest Sports Partners enters the sports marketplace at a time of rapid change. Tom Burnett and his team are uniquely qualified to assist any organization to assess their challenges, survey the landscape and apply innovative solutions. With extensive backgrounds in a wide variety of areas, Southwest Sports Partners is well-positioned to make an immediate impact.”
GREG BYRNE, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: “Tom Burnett is a trusted leader and advisor for many within intercollegiate athletics. His experience and understanding of the innerworkings of our complex industry is a benefit that any athletic department or administrator can use.”
BUBBA CUNNINGHAM, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: “Tom’s experience, integrity and leadership within the business of sports will benefit those looking for thoughtful and successful guidance. As a former Conference Commissioner and Chair of the D-I Men’s Basketball Committee, he knows how to build genuine relationships and partnerships, which will be key to continuing to offer valuable perspective in the sports industry.”
TAG GARSON, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WASSERMAN MEDIA GROUP: “Tom Burnett is very skilled in so many areas within the sports and entertainment industries. His capabilities run the gamut, and there is no question in my mind that properties and organizations, both large and small, will benefit from working with him.”
DAN GAVITT, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, NCAA: “Southwest Sports Partners is well-prepared and experienced to provide clients with exceptional service and creative problem-solving. Tom Burnett is a trusted and respected leader in the sports industry, which greatly benefitted the men’s basketball championship and March Madness when Tom served as chair of the committee in 2021-22. Tom’s deep experience in complex event management, media opportunities, strategic planning and governance will serve partners invaluably. His relationships are gold and enduring.”
STEVE HATCHELL, PRESIDENT/CEO, NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: “Everyone is on the same page when describing Tom Burnett. Thoughtful, patient, takes time to listen and evaluate and then firm and enlightened as to next steps for all situations. You want him in the room and at the table when making plans and solving issues. He’s a shoulder-to-shoulder partner with solutions and a vision.”
DR. CHARLES McCLELLAND, COMMISSIONER, SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: “Tom Burnett has been a trusted innovative leader in the world of sports and intercollegiate athletics for over three decades. His ability to lead and identify a clear path towards success during times of uncertainty truly makes him one of the best in the business. Any organization seeking to grow and advance would benefit immensely through a partnership with Southwest Sports Partners and President/CEO Tom Burnett.”
DR. CHRIS REYNOLDS, VP FOR INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS, BRADLEY UNIVERSITY: “Tom Burnett is a consummate professional and I have been afforded the opportunity and pleasure of working with him over the past four years. Tom's attention to detail, thoughtfulness and work ethic is second to none as well as his passion for serving others in the intercollegiate athletics space.”
CRAIG THOMPSON, COMMISSIONER, MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE: “Tom Burnett is a most experienced athletic administrator with deep connections in the intercollegiate world. His vast and diverse background will serve clients well in any number of areas and provide an excellent resource.”
DR. KEVIN WHITE, VP/ATHLETIC DIRECTOR EMERITUS, DUKE UNIVERSITY: “I’m thrilled that Southwest Sports Partners is enthusiastically entering the athletics consulting space. With their highly seasoned leader, Tom Burnett, an absolute rockstar, Southwest Sports will indeed enjoy a very strong market position immediately!”
TOM WISTRCILL, COMMISSIONER, BIG SKY CONFERENCE: “I’m so excited that Tom Burnett has started his own consulting group.His experience around all facets of college athletics will provide his clients with a unique perspective and definitive results.Tom is one of the most connected and thoughtful leaders we have in college athletics and his expertise is needed during these times of change.”