Johnnie football alum Denis McDonough named to NCAA's Board of Governors

McDonough previously served as President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff. (Photo: Tommy O'Laughlin)
McDonough previously served as President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff. (Photo: Tommy O'Laughlin)

Saint John's University Sports Information Department

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Saint John's University graduate Denis McDonough '92 was named one of five independent members of the NCAA Board of Governors on Tuesday, April 30.

Former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, McDonough currently chairs the Rework America Task Force, a national initiative to transform the labor market so all Americans can thrive in the digital economy.

McDonough also teaches a global policy seminar as an executive fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs. He is a senior adviser for technology and global policy for Macro Advisory Partners, a strategic advisory firm that helps to navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and policy.

The additions to the Board of Governors are one in a series of reforms aimed at strengthening public trust in the NCAA as an effective leader and regulator in college sports. Representatives from schools and conferences in all three NCAA divisions voted in January to add independent members to the board.

The other four independent members of the NCAA Board of Governors are:

-Kenneth Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co.;

-Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities and former president of the Universities of Michigan and Iowa;

-Grant Hill, former Duke University and NBA athlete; current broadcaster and NBA team owner;

-Vivek Murthy, 19th surgeon general of the United States.

The broadened representation on the NCAA Board of Governors was among the recommendations of the Commission on College Basketball, an independent group led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which formed in response to a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. 

The board contracted a third-party search firm, Heidrick and Struggles, to filter and vet more than 250 candidates during the nomination process. NCAA members and the public submitted more than 150 nominations. The Board of Governors Executive Committee, which includes presidents and chancellors from all three divisions, served as the nominating committee and provided recommendations to the full board for approval.

The other Board of Governors members include 16 college and university presidents and chancellors who represent each division as voting members; the chairs of the Division I Council and the Division II and III Management Councils as ex-officio nonvoting members; and the NCAA president as an ex-officio nonvoting member. The board members, including the five independent voting members, are volunteers who are not compensated for their time. The independent members' first meeting is in August.

McDonough delivered the Saint John's University commencement address last May and was featured by NCAA Division III as part of its "40-in-40" series in October 2013.

During his four years at Saint John's, McDonough was a three-year starter at defensive back and a member of two MIAC championship teams under the direction of legendary head coach John Gagliardi, including one in 1991 that reached the NCAA Division III semifinals. His 12 career interceptions place him in a tie for 11th in SJU history, one shy of cracking the top 10. McDonough also recorded 171 tackles (70 solo) and 25 passes defended in 38 career games played.

A native of Stillwater, Minn., McDonough graduated from Saint John's in 1992 with degrees in history and Spanish. He then traveled throughout Latin America and taught high school in Belize prior to his attending Georgetown University, where he earned a master's degree in foreign service from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1996.

McDonough was named President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff Jan. 25, 2013, after serving as deputy national security adviser the previous two years.

Prior to joining Obama's staff, McDonough served as a senior foreign policy advisor to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. McDonough also served as legislative director for former Colorado Senator and current Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, after his election in 2004. He later became a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

McDonough joined Obama's Senate staff in 2006 as a senior foreign policy advisor, a position that he continued to serve during the president's 2008 campaign. He was a member of the White House National Security Council from 2008-13, serving as National Security Council chief of staff and head of strategic communication before assuming his role as deputy national security adviser.

| NCAA Release | SJU Release |