WAC's Karl Benson Named Next Sun Belt Conference Commissioner

by Sun Belt Media  on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 3:16 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

NEW ORLEANS – Karl Benson has been named the fifth commissioner in Sun Belt Conference history as announced on Thursday, February 16.

Benson’s term as commissioner will begin on April 1, 2012.  He replaces outgoing commissioner Wright Waters, who announced his retirement last October.  Waters has served as the Sun Belt’s commissioner since December, 1998 and will formally step down on June 30, 2012.

Mike Slive, Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference said in a released statement, "I have worked with Karl for more than 20 years and have always admired his work under trying circumstances. His extensive experience and energy will benefit the Sun Belt and build on the outstanding legacy left to him by Wright Waters."

Dean Lee, Director of Athletics at Arkansas State University, said Benson "will bring great vision to the Sun Belt and will prove to be the perfect asset as we continue to advance this conference.”

Benson comes to the Sun Belt after serving as the commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference since 1994.

During his time at the WAC, Benson developed numerous multi-year agreements with postseason football games, including the Holiday Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Copper Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, Silicon Valley Football Classic, GMAC Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, the Humanitarian Bowl, Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Under Benson’s leadership, the WAC achieved noted success by sending multiple teams to Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games as well as having sent a total of 38 teams to bowl games since 2001.  In men’s basketball, the WAC has sent at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 24 of the past 28 seasons.

Benson served on the NCAA Management Council from 1999-2002 and a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee from 2002-06.

Prior to his time at the WAC, Benson served as the commissioner of the Mid-American Conference for four years.  There, he implemented several innovative projects and was instrumental in the formation of the Las Vegas Bowl.

Prior to taking the reins of the MAC, Benson served on the NCAA staff for more than four years where he was the director of NCAA championships when selected as MAC commissioner.

Benson joined the NCAA staff in January 1986, as a compliance representative and was appointed assistant director of championships in June 1987.  He was promoted to director of championships in 1988.  In that position, Benson actively supervised eight assistant directors in their administration of 68 NCAA championships.

A native of the state of Washington, Benson graduated from high school in Pullman in 1970, attended Spokane Falls Community College and then received a bachelor of science degree in physical education from Boise State University in 1975.  He has also completed course work toward his master’s degree in athletics administration at the University of Utah.



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