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Jeff Williams | | October 3, 2023

Men's basketball NIT names new committee members

Way-too-early Power 36 for the 2023-24 men's basketball season

INDIANAPOLIS — Morgan State Vice President and Director of Athletics Dena Freeman-Patton and Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Brian Thornton have been added to the National Invitation Tournament committee.

Freeman-Patton became the first woman to lead Morgan State’s athletics operations when she was hired in June of 2022. She joined the Bears staff after serving as associate vice president and director of athletics at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Freeman-Patton has served as chair of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, and she was named the Women Leaders in College Sports Administrator of the Year in 2018. Before starting her career in collegiate athletics, she was a Division I basketball student-athlete at Liberty.

Thornton was named the seventh commissioner in the history of the WAC in November of 2021. Before joining the WAC, Thornton was associate commissioner for basketball at the American Athletic Conference and was an assistant director of basketball development at the NCAA. Before his career in intercollegiate athletics, Thorton was a standout college basketball player at Vanderbilt and Xavier. He was a Southeastern Conference all-freshman selection in 2002 while at Vanderbilt. At Xavier, Thorton was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Student-Athlete of the Year twice and was a College Sports Communicators Academic All-America selection and a first-team all-conference pick in 2006.

Freeman-Patton and Thornton will join the NIT committee, which will be chaired by New Orleans Vice President of Athletics and Recreation Tim Duncan. Other members of the 2023-24 NIT Committee are former Virginia Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage and former Division I men’s basketball coaches Rick Byrd, Bob McKillop, Gary Waters and Bob Williams.

The 2024 championship will be the 86th NIT. Selections, pairings and the bracket will be announced March 17, with games beginning Tuesday, March 19. The NIT semifinals and championship will be played April 2 and 4 at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. For more information on the championship visit

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