Champagne and Chardonnay Patrons’ Party hosts are honored to highlight an amazing woman who has broken barriers in the world of sports administration!
“I almost did not apply for the commissioner’s position because at the time women were rarely hired as commissioners. I am so glad I did not let my assumptions hold me back from pursuing my dream. A woman might not fit the job requirements exactly, but that’s okay! Work on promoting your experience and make the case that your experience will bring value.” – Beth DeBauche, Commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference
Elizabeth (Beth) DeBauche was named commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference on July 29, 2009, becoming the seventh full-time commissioner in the history of the OVC.
As commissioner, she answers to each of the 12 OVC schools’ presidents and works with them to set the strategic direction of the conference.
DeBauche (pronounced De-Bush), a Green Bay, Wisconsin native, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history and government from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana, and her master’s degree in communications from Notre Dame. She went on to complete her juris doctorate from the Notre Dame School of Law.
After a brief stint in the field of law, DeBauche turned her attention to the world of college athletics. She got her start at Vanderbilt University, where she was the assistant athletic director for compliance from August 1994 to November 1996. From there, she worked as an assistant and later associate commissioner for the Southeastern Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, from November 1996 through August 2002.
In 2002, she relocated to Indianapolis to work in the home office of the NCAA, where she was responsible for coordinating Division I initiatives through the NCAA governance structure, as well as helping to manage the Division I agenda. She was also a liaison to governance representatives, external constituent groups and NCAA staff regarding legislative and governance activities.
After seven years with the NCAA, she made her way back to the South and took the commissioner position for the OVC in 2009.
The conference has seen several changes under DeBauche’s leadership, including expanding the conference to 12 member institutions, the implementation of a revised governance structure to enhance efficiencies and collaboration and the launch of a branding initiative and the league’s first tagline: “Inspiring Excellence Since 1948.” She also negotiated the largest national media contract in league history and played a key role in upgrading the OVC Digital Network to HD video and expanding viewership.
During DeBauche’s time with the OVC, student-athletes have achieved high levels of success, not only on the field, but also in the classroom. The league has consistently seen a record number of honorees on the OVC Medal of Honor and OVC Commissioner’s Honor Roll. In order to help students succeed, DeBauche sponsors comprehensive leadership programming for OVC student-athletes and coaches through on-campus summits.
DeBauche serves on the NCAA Committee on Academics, the National Letter of Intent (NLI) Appeals Committee and is the Vice President of the Collegiate Commissioner’s Association (CCA). She has served on the Committee on Institutional Performance, the Division I Strategic Vision and Planning Committee and the Division I Management Council. She is also the FCS representative to the “Coalition To Protect the Student-Athlete Experience” communications steering committee and serves as the FCS liaison to the FCS AD’s Association.
She is a board member with the Nashville Sports Council, the Nashville YWCA and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, a member of the Nashville Rotary, the International Women’s Forum of Tennessee, and a graduate of Leadership Nashville.