At any given moment over the past month, Gloria Nevarez was probably on the move.
After officially taking over as the Mountain West’s second commissioner on Jan. 1, she held meetings at the College Football Playoff national championship game in Los Angeles, then at the NCAA convention in San Antonio. She has visited Wyoming, New Mexico and Air Force and spent time at the conference offices in Colorado Springs. Next up is a trip to Boise State. She has tried to take in a men’s and women’s basketball game at each stop as she learns about her league.
“I have to get to campuses,” she said.
The only other commissioner in Mountain West history, Craig Thompson, was a million-miler on two airlines, lauded by conference members for always making himself available. Nevarez plans to continue that. People who have worked with Nevarez in the past praise her communication skills.
Not only is Nevarez adjusting to a new commissioner role after holding the same position with the West Coast Conference, but she just wrapped up her time on the Division I Transformation Committee, one of six college sports boards or committees with which she is involved. Few people are as interested in the nitty-gritty details of college sports as Nevarez, the second female and first Latina commissioner of an FBS conference (she’s also one-quarter Filipino and one-quarter Irish). While some FBS conferences have recently gone outside the box with commissioner hires, the Mountain West went from one college sports leader to another. Nevarez, who played basketball at UMass, has also worked at the Pac-12, Oklahoma, Cal and San Jose State.
“You can’t ask for a more connected commissioner,” former Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth said. “You’re not getting secondhand information from her.”
There is a strong belief within the Mountain West that it is poised to become the top football conference in the Group of 5. The American Athletic Conference, most often the top-rated G5 league, lost Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. The Mountain West is also a strong men’s basketball conference, with the potential to earn as many as five NCAA Tournament bids this year.