Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the hiring of Brian Thornton as Associate Commissioner for Basketball at the American Athletic Conference.
Thornton will serve as the primary administrator for The American’s men’s and women’s basketball programs, including oversight of scheduling, officiating and game operations as well as compliance with NCAA governance. He will serve as the commissioner’s liaison with the men’s and women’s basketball coaches at The American’s 11 member institutions and will oversee the conference’s annual men’s and women’s basketball championships.
Thornton comes to The American after most recently serving as an Assistant Director for Basketball Development at the NCAA National Office since 2018. Thornton was responsible for developing relationships with constituents in the men’s and women’s basketball communities, including collegiate and nonscholastic coaches, apparel companies and professional basketball organizations. He additionally served as a liaison to the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees, developing legislative concepts to foster the growth and development of college basketball.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome Brian Thornton to the American Athletic Conference,” said Aresco. “Brian’s varied and valuable experience as an accomplished administrator, a veteran coach and a successful student-athlete will enable us to continue to elevate our men’s and women’s basketball. His experience and insight with respect to global and national issues at the NCAA level will be very important in his work with our coaches, administrators and the greater college basketball community.”
“I am impressed with Brian’s credentials and experience and am confident that he will do an outstanding job on behalf of American Athletic Conference basketball,” said Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson, chair of The American’s men’s basketball coaches. “His credibility as a player, coach and administrator and his familiarity with the game on a national and international level will make him a great resource for our coaches and student-athletes.”
“On behalf of the American Athletic Conference women’s basketball coaches, I am excited to welcome Brian Thornton as our new associate commissioner,” said SMU Head Coach Travis Mays, the chair of The American’s women’s basketball coaches. “As a former player, coach and administrator, Brian brings with him a vast amount of experience from every aspect of the game. There is no doubt that his perspective and knowledge will be assets to the coaches, players and programs within our conference. I look forward to a bright future as Brian joins our leadership team.”
“Congratulations to Brian Thornton on his appointment as Associate Commissioner for Basketball at the American Athletic Conference,” said NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt. “Brian is talented and impressive with a bright future in college basketball administration. The American has made an enlightened hire for its men’s and women’s basketball programs, which will benefit from Brian’s leadership and collaborative skills.”
Before joining the staff at the NCAA, Thornton spent nine years as an assistant at the Division I level, serving as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball programs at Ball State (2014-18), Winthrop (2012-14) and Furman (2011-12) and as director of operations at Xavier.
Thornton was a standout player at Xavier, where he was the 2005 and 2006 Atlantic-10 Student-Athlete of the Year, a CoSIDA Academic All-America selection and was a first-team all-conference pick for the Musketeers’ 2006 Atlantic-10 championship team. He began his playing career at Vanderbilt, where he was an SEC all-freshman selection in 2002 and played professionally for the Artland Dragons for the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany from 2006-07.
Thornton earned an undergraduate degree in business from Xavier in 2005 and added an MBA from that institution in 2007. He will begin his duties with The American October 19.