Entering his 25th year as commissioner of the Horizon League, Jonathan B. (Jon) LeCrone continues to be a driving force behind the development of the League.
Under his direction, the Horizon League vigorously continues to pursue its vision, which is to be highly competitive and nationally recognized while developing student-athletes to their full potential.
“Our fundamental mission is to help educate young people,” said LeCrone. “Through athletics, we aspire to teach the core values of personal well-being, integrity, respect and stewardship. Our goal is to help our member institutions add value to the educational experience.”
Named the League’s fifth commissioner on May 11, 1992, LeCrone’s 24 years of leadership have resulted in an expanded and stable membership, improved League championship events, a growing financial base, and greater national recognition for the Horizon League. His tenure is the fourth-longest among the 31 multi-sport conferences in Division I.
Over the past four years, LeCrone has guided the League through the membership additions of Oakland University (2013) and Northern Kentucky University (2015).
In 2015, LeCrone announced a five-year partnership with Olympia Entertainment to move the Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship to Detroit. In 2017, the women's basketball tournament will join the men's, bringing 18 games to Joe Louis Arena across five days in March.
In 2018, the championships will be one of the first basketball events at the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit.
The resulting additions led to the completion and adoption of a comprehensive strategic plan that will guide the League and its members in six key areas: student-athlete well-being, competition, messaging, governance, membership and resources. The plan was passed by the Horizon League Board of Directors in June 2014.
A leader at the national level, LeCrone presently sits on the Division I Values-Based Revenue Distribution Working Group. In 2013, he completed a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council, which was charged with developing the model of a Division I member. His appointment comes after a five-year term (2003-08) on the prestigious NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.
A significant step toward a number of goals put forth by LeCrone occurred on June 4, 2001, when the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, founded in 1979, officially changed its name to the Horizon League. A driving force behind the name and image change, LeCrone and the Horizon League membership view the transformation as a renewed commitment to athletic success, community involvement, academic achievement and personal responsibility.
In 2002, he was one of four conference commissioners who joined with ESPN to create Bracket Buster Saturday, one of the nation’s premier regular-season men’s basketball events.
LeCrone also implemented the Women’s Leadership Symposium, a biennial event first held in Indianapolis in 2001 with the purpose of enhancing the professional development and growth of women in athletics. More recently, he guided the Horizon League Long-Range Planning Committee through phase three of a long-range planning process.
LeCrone has also worked to enhance the Horizon League’s branding and communications efforts. In 2006, LeCrone spearheaded the development of the Horizon League Network, from which institutions broadcast competitions in the digital space. In 2014, the League began delivering events to ESPN3 and provided more than 650 broadcast events via the ESPN3 platform in 2016.
In addition, LeCrone continues to be a leader in helping bring major NCAA championship events to Indianapolis. 2017 will mark the fifth consecutive year the Horizon League has served as a co-host, this time for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament 1st and 2nd rounds.
After co-hosting the 2013 and 2014 Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regionals, the Horizon League was the co-host for the 2015 Final Four, the sixth time (1991, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2010) the League has served in that role. The Horizon League co-hosted for the 2016 Women's Final Four as well, marking the third time (2005, 2011) the conference has worked in that capacity.
In 2010, the Horizon League, along with national-runner up Butler University, co-hosted the 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, becoming the first conference to host a Final Four while one of its members participated. A year later, the League successfully co-hosted the 2011 Women’s Final Four at Conseco Fieldhouse while Butler was playing in its second consecutive Men’s Final Four.
Prior to joining the Horizon League, LeCrone spent nine years as assistant commissioner at the Atlantic Coast Conference, serving on the staffs of former commissioner Gene Corrigan and his predecessor, the late Bob James. At the ACC, LeCrone was responsible for conference projects in television, marketing, and public relations, including coordinating the syndicated football television package, televising conference championship events, and developing revenue-producing projects. During his first five years at the ACC, his primary duties included the implementation of conference championship events and interpretation and enforcement of ACC and NCAA rules.
LeCrone was assistant athletics director at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., for four years before joining the ACC office. He also spent a year in the Chicago Cubs organization as the business manager for the Class AAA team in Wichita, Kan.
A 1976 graduate of Wake Forest with a bachelor’s degree in English, LeCrone was a member of the Wake Forest baseball team. He received a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University in 1978.
A native of Vandalia, Ohio, he is married to the former Lisa Dauria Knorr. LeCrone has three daughters, Alexandra, Megan, and Emery, one son, Weston, and one stepson, Maxwell.
Highlights of LeCrone's Tenure as Horizon League Commissioner:
- Spearheaded the transition of the name and image change from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference to Horizon League in 2001.
- Oversaw the League's strategic planning process, helping define the conference since 2014.
- Guided the League through a major expansion in 1994 that brought in current members Cleveland State, UIC, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Wright State.
- Was instrumental in the addition of Youngstown State University (2001), Valparaiso University (2007), Oakland University (2013) and Northern Kentucky University (2015) as the League’s newest members.
- Announced a five-year partnership with Olympia Entertainment to move the Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship to Detroit, with the women's tournament joining in 2017.
- Serves on the Division I Values-Based Revenue Distribution Working Group.
- Completed a four-year appointment on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council in 2013.
- Served for five years on the prestigious NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, 2003-08.
- Has helped bring to Indianapolis the NCAA Men's Final Four in 1997, 2000, 2006, 2010 and 2015, along with the Women's Final Four in 2005, 2011 and 2016. The Horizon League will serve as a co-host for the Men's Final Four in 2021.
- Was instrumental in the League developing the Horizon League Network in 2006; today, the League and its members will deliver more than 650 live events to ESPN3.
- Played a key role in the inclusion of Horizon League teams in the BracketBusters series which ran from 2003-12.
- Implemented the Horizon League Women's Leadership Symposium that has been held biennially since 2001.
- Served a six-year term on the Division I Men's Soccer Committee, including three as chair.