Tom Wistrcill, the commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, and Martin Newton, the director of athletics at Samford, have been named to the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Wistrcill is the second person from the Big Sky to serve on the committee, following former Commissioner Doug Fullerton (2010-14), while Newton will become the fifth athletics director from a Southern Conference school to be appointed to the group. The duo will assume their five-year terms in September.
In addition, Minnesota athletics director Mark Coyle, who is a first-year member of the committee, has been confirmed to stay on through the 2025-26 academic year. The Big Ten Conference’s original appointee, Jim Phillips, left Northwestern to become the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the middle of the 2020-21 season. Purdue Athletics Director Mike Bobinski filled in for Phillips for the final three months of the season, before Coyle was selected to finish out Phillips’ original term, which was set to expire in August. Instead, Coyle will be able to serve a standard five-year term.
Wistrcill is a member of the Division I Men’s Basketball Competition Committee, a group that works with the rules committee on such issues as student-athlete safety, sportsmanship, game presentation and technology use. A graduate of Saint Mary’s (Minnesota), where he played Division III basketball and was elected team captain, Wistrcill brings a variety of experience to the committee. In addition to being a Division I commissioner, he also is a former Division I athletics director, having served in that capacity at Akron from 2009-15. During that time, the Zips went to a pair of NCAA men’s basketball tournaments and one NIT, while the women’s team advanced to its first-ever NCAA tournament. Prior to Akron, Wistrcill served as senior associate athletics director at Minnesota and spent seven years as a Division II commissioner at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
“It is an absolute honor to represent the Big Sky Conference and our member institutions on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee,” Wistrcill said. “To serve in this capacity has been a career aspiration of mine, and to contribute and give back to a sport that has meant so much to me is both humbling and thrilling. I am grateful to the NCAA and Dan Gavitt for affording me this special opportunity and cannot wait to work with so many respected colleagues to help make what is already one of the premier events in all of sports even better for the student-athletes, coaches, fans and members of the media.”
Newton has been overseeing the athletics department at Samford for the past 11 years, during which time the Bulldogs have captured 56 regular-season, divisional and postseason Southern Conference championships. Newton was an All-Conference honorable mention basketball player at Samford, earning his degree from the university in 1983. He then spent more than a quarter century working in marketing for major shoe companies before going to Kentucky in 2009. During his two-year stay in Lexington, he managed the budget, fundraising, compliance, scheduling, marketing and academic support for the men’s basketball program.
A recognized leader in collegiate athletics, Newton is a member of the NCAA’s Council Coordination Committee, the Division I Council and the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, which makes recommendations for the betterment of regular-season and postseason basketball. Newton is the son of the late CM Newton, the legendary college basketball player, coach and administrator, who served on the men’s basketball committee from 1992-99 and chaired it his final two years while the athletics director at Kentucky.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be asked to serve on this prestigious committee,” Newton said. “The game of basketball has been such an important part of my life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to a game that has meant so much to me and my family. I’m excited to learn from and work with Dan Gavitt, his exceptional staff, and the other committee members for the next five years as we continue to grow this great game of college basketball.”
The committee works with NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt and men’s basketball staff on the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
Rotating off the committee on Aug. 31 will be current chair Tom Burnett, the commissioner of the Southland Conference, as well as Toledo Athletics Director Mike O’Brien. Wistrcill and Newton will join Greg Byrne, the director of athletics at Alabama; Barry Collier, the director of athletics at Butler; Mark Coyle, the director of athletics at Minnesota; Bubba Cunningham, the director of athletics at North Carolina; Keith Gil, the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference; Martin Jarmond, the director of athletics at UCLA; Charles McClelland, the commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Bernadette McGlade, the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference; Jamie Pollard, the director of athletics at Iowa State; and 2022-23 committee chair Chris Reynolds, the director of athletics at Bradley.