Halls of Fame
Dennis A. Farrell
Dennis Farrell has transformed an early interest in sports and journalism at Santa Ana College into a leadership position with one of the country’s top collegiate sports organizations. He has a birds-eye view of major college sports action and is in a position to enhance the opportunities for student-athletes throughout the region.
The 2006-2007 academic year marks the 15th year in Dennis’ tenure as commissioner of the Big West Conference and the 27th year on staff overall. He is the fourth full-time commissioner in the 37-year history of the Big West, which encompasses nine premier California academic institutions with competition in seventeen sports. Prior to assuming the role of commissioner in July 1992, Dennis served the conference in various capacities as assistant/associate commissioner since joining the conference in 1980. During his time with the Big West Conference, he has acted as the primary rule interpreter, champion administrator, schedule coordinator and director of the league’s successful post-season basketball tournament.
Dennis has been active in representing the Big West on both the national and regional levels. From 1994 to 1997, he served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) council. From 1991 to 1997, Dennis served on the NCAA Two-Year College Relations Committee, including as chair from 1992 to 1995. In 1995, College Sports Magazine named him one of the five most influential people in community college athletics for his work on the Two-Year College Relations Committee. Also at the national level, he served as the chair of the NCAA Baseball Issues Committee and as the Division I-AAA Vice President of the Collegiate Commissioners Association. Dennis is currently a member of the NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Working Group that examines ways of improving the academic success of collegiate baseball student-athletes. Also in the works is a new, eight-team pre-season basketball event, which will be in addition to the conference basketball championship held annually at the Anaheim Convention Center. On the local level, Dennis is a member of the Los Angeles Sports Council, which is active in securing, marketing and administering major athletic events for Southern California. He has been the host for the NCAA West Regional Tournament for the last three years and serves on the council of the Olympic Games site bidding committee.
Before joining the Big West Conference, Dennis was the sports information director for nearly three years at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, California. A 1974 graduate of San Diego State University, he worked on the Daily Californian newspaper in El Cajon and radio station KDO while attending college. From 1975 to 1977, he was employed as sports editor of the Saddleback Valley News in Mission Viejo. He also worked in the sports department of the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times.
In 1971, Dennis graduated from Santa Ana College with an Associate of Arts degree. While at SAC, he was sports editor and editor-in-chief of the el Don. One of his fondest memories is a special April Fools’ Day edition of the el Don that was a spoof on supermarket tabloids. The front-page story reported that the college library was converting from the Dewey decimal system to the Library of Congress filing system, with the headline “Dewey Ousted in Library Shake-Up.” The newspaper flew off the newsstands as people wondered who this Dewey person was and what he had done to warrant ejection from the library.
Over the years, Dennis has been active in a number of community activities, especially Little League baseball where he served as manager, umpire and administrator. He was honored in two communities for founding two highly successful college football bowl games, the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada and the MPC Bowl in Boise, Idaho. He has also served as guest speaker for numerous high school academic award programs.
Santa Ana College provided a vital educational opportunity for Dennis and one that his family could afford. His two brothers attended SAC, so for Dennis it was a “no-brainer.” The small class size and personalized instruction prepared him for succeed at the university level. He noted that the quality of education he received at SAC was top-notch. Dennis also emphasizes the very significant role of the college in the overall community as a focal point for lifelong learning, the arts, cultural awareness and athletic pride.
Dennis, wife Charlene and son Timothy live in Coto de Caza. Their other son, Michael, attends the University of Oregon.