Bennett, Claybrook named to Division I Women's Basketball Committee
INDIANAPOLIS -- Rhonda Lundin Bennett and Leslie Claybrook are the two newest members of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee.
Bennett, senior associate athletics director at Nevada, and Claybrook, assistant commissioner at the Southeastern Conference, will begin their terms Sept. 1, 2014. The duo will replace current two-time committee chair Carolayne Henry, senior associate commissioner at the Mountain West Conference, and University of Alabama at Birmingham athletics director Brian Mackin, whose terms expire Aug. 31.
Bennett, who has more than 18 years of full-time college athletics experience, joined the Wolf Pack staff in September of 2005. Prior to moving into sports administration in 2010, she headed up Nevada's athletics communications efforts. She moved from assistant director to associate athletics director in five years and served as the primary media relations contact for the Wolf Pack men's basketball team from 2005-09, which was nationally ranked for two years, earned four postseason appearances and won four Western Athletic Conference regular-season championships.
In her current role, Bennett oversees seven of the Wolf Pack's 16 sports and serves as Nevada's senior woman administrator. She serves as a member of the senior administrative team and acts as a liaison to the Mountain West Conference. She is also a member of the MW Executive Committee and is chairing the MW Senior Woman Administrator Committee in 2013-14.
A native of Hillsboro, Ore., Bennett also spent time at Kansas State and Minnesota in her career. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1996, where she got her start in college athletics as a student intern in the Wildcats' sports information office.
"It is a great privilege and honor for me to be named to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee," said Bennett. "I appreciate the support that I have received from the Nevada and the Mountain West Conference. I have had the opportunity to work with women's basketball for many years, and I am passionate about the game. I look forward to working with the members of this distinguished committee to continue to make women's basketball a great experience for coaches, student-athletes and fans."
Claybrook will be serving her second stint on the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee, as she had previously served in the same capacity from 2009 to 2011 while she was senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator at Rice University. She has also served as a member of the NCAA Women's Basketball Rules Committee and NCAA Amateurism Fact Finding Committee during her distinguished career.
In her current role at the SEC, she is responsible for the oversight of women's basketball, soccer and softball. She administers the conference championship for each of these sports as well as handles administration of the regular season and coaches groups.
Prior to her time at Rice, Claybrook served as the associate athletics director for compliance at Samford.
Claybrook served in a similar capacity at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama. While at BSC, she was instrumental in the department's transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I, including starting seven new sports and leading the school through the NCAA certification process.
Claybrook has also served as a compliance assistant with the Southeastern Conference and has served stints as an assistant women's basketball coach at Mercer and Troy.
In her spare time, she has been actively involved in refereeing basketball at the collegiate, WNBA and international levels. Her expertise allowed her to represent USA Basketball as a referee at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
A native of Luverne, Ala., Claybrook is a graduate of Alabama where she was a four-year letterwinner for the women's basketball team and a three-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Claybrook received a master's degree from Mercer while an assistant women's basketball coach.
"I am honored to be selected to serve again on the Women's Basketball Committee," said Claybrook. "Women's basketball is in a great position nationally. I am excited and humbled to serve as a caretaker of the sport I love."
The committee will be chaired in 2014-15 by Dru Hancock, senior associate commissioner at the Big 12 Conference. Along with Hancock, Henry and Mackin, other current committee members include Sybil Blalock, senior woman administrator at Mercer University; Shonna Brown, associate commissioner at the America East Conference; Chris Dawson, associate commissioner at the Pac-12 Conference; Terry Gawlik, senior associate athletic director for sports administration at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Kathy Meehan, associate vice president for athletics/senior woman administrator at St. John's (NY) University; M. Dianne Murphy, the director, intercollegiate athletics and physical education at Columbia University; and Brad Walker, associate commissioner for operations/chief operating officer at the Ohio Valley Conference.