Brown graduated from Saginaw St. Andrew’s High School where he was a four year starter in baseball and was a member of the Class B runner-up team in 1954. The Bulldogs were the Saginaw Valley champs from 1952-54. He played basketball three years and the Bulldogs were crowned champs in ’53 and ’54. Brown would go on to Central Michigan College where he was a four year starter in baseball and lettered two years in basketball. He majored in physical education and minored in health education and mathematics He was drafted by the Washington Senators in 1959. He taught mathematics and coached at Bad Axe High School from 1959-62 as varsity basketball, assistant football and varsity baseball.
In 1962 he took over the basketball program at Northwood Institute until 1967 when he assumed the same role at Northwood’s Indiana Campus. He also served as athletic director and business manager. Brown also served as assistant football coach, head baseball coach and golf coach at Northwood. Other positions he held at Northwood were administrative assistant to the president(1969-72), director of finance and operations(1972-74), executive vice president(1974-76), chancellor/chief operating officer(1976-79). He served as president from 1979-82 before starting his own consulting firm in the Detroit area.
In 1992 he became commissioner of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the conference he helped form in 1972. It was a position he held for 17 years. While serving as commissioner, Brown served on various NCAA committees, including an appointment to the Management Council, the governing body of Division II. He also served on the Budget and Finance Committee, the Diversity Task Force, the Football Task Force and the Honors Committee for the NCAA. When he retired in 2009 it was the longest tenure of any commissioner and the first fulltime commissioner in GLIAC history. During his turn at the helm the conference expanded from 10 to 14 members and increased the sports sponsored to 20, ten men’s and ten women’s including the reinstatement of football as a conference sport. The GLIAC moved from a Michigan only conference to include members from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
He has operated his own consulting firm, Thomas J. Brown & Associates since 1982. After his retirement from the GLIAC in 2009 he has served educational institutions in their quest to become members of the NCAA Division II. He earned BA and MA Degrees from Central Michigan and in 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Northwood University.
He serves on the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions Advisory Board, Fraser-Pinconning Fire Board and the Finance Committee at St. Anne Catholic Church in Linwood, MI.
Brown and his wife reside in Linwood, Michigan. They are the parents of four daughters and have four granddaughters.