The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has created an advisory board for its Sports Law and Business Program (SLB), featuring some of the most accomplished experts from the sports world.
Composed of both influential local and national members, the board brings together innovative thought leaders with legal, business and administrative expertise from across the entire sports spectrum. Collegiate, professional and international organizations are represented — from basketball, baseball, football and hockey, to golf, tennis and NASCAR.
“The board is as diverse as the sports industry itself, which is incredibly vast and touches a number of different business and legal disciplines,” SLB Director Glenn Wong said.
Members of the newly formed board came from across the country to ASU Law’s Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix in November for a kick-off retreat, as well as to participate in a public three-part panel discussion on issues in sports.
“The vision this group has with the Sports Law and Business program to innovate, and the excitement and energy in the room, was great,” said board member David Gardi, senior vice president of football operations for the NFL.
Jeff Price is the chief commercial officer for PGA of America, and a longtime associate of Wong’s. For him, joining the board was an easy decision.
“It starts with Glenn Wong, whom I’ve had a relationship with for 30 years, going back to being his student at UMass in a graduate program too many years ago,” said Price, one of the panelists for a discussion on the globalization of sports. “He’s so innovative and had such an influence on so many people in the sports industry and so many of us. When he came here, he saw the dynamic environment at ASU Law, and the opportunity for training really, really smart and enthusiastic students who can come out and engage in the sports business immediately. And I think the combination of law and sports is something that there’s been a gap, and this program is uniquely solving that. So I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League, said the strong credentials of ASU Law’s SLB program motivated her to join the board.
“I researched the program, and I was really impressed with the curriculum,” Harris said. “As a lawyer who’s in sports, I think that this is serving a really important niche in combining the legal and business aspects of sports in a program that will really help young people get knowledge, understanding and training that will lead them into careers.”
And Harris likes that the program emphasizes careers in all levels of athletics — not just professional.
“Selfishly, I want to see more talented people in college sports,” she said. “Oftentimes, when business is put into the title, even though college sports is a business, as we know, young people want to go into the professional sports world or the corporate side. And I would like to see talented people stay a part of higher education.”
Gardi was also impressed by the SLB program, which he says offers the type of in-depth training needed to handle the complexities of high-level jobs in the sports industry. He would consider graduates of the program strong contenders for job opportunities in the NFL, crediting the breadth of the curriculum and the depth of the advisory board.
“I think the experience the students are getting here, and the education they’re getting here, will definitely serve them well and be able to advance them and get them in the door probably quicker than people at other schools that don’t have this type of program,” he said.
Price credits the practical experience he got working with Wong decades ago in helping him break into the sports industry, having gotten a job early in his career with the NBA. He says connecting the resources at ASU will provide graduates with similar advantages.
“I think the unique partnership that exists between the athletic department, the law school and the business school is one that is a great opportunity for the students, and they have to take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s an incredibly competitive industry, and at the end of the day, the opportunity is there for them to differentiate themselves.”
And Price, like many other members of the board, is always looking for new talent.
“They can bring real skills that will help folks like me at the PGA of America and others across the industry to solve the problems that we have,” he said. “We’re looking for young talent to come in and really invigorate organizations. So I think it’s a unique opportunity that’s here for students in this program to take advantage of.”
Members of the Sports Law and Business advisory panel
Dale Adams, general manager Gila River Arena and vice president event development AEG Facilities
Ray Anderson, vice president for university athletics and athletics director, Arizona State University
Lon Babby, retired president of basketball operations, Phoenix Suns and retired player representative
Jeff Benz, mediator, arbitrator, referee, special master at JAMS
Kevin Blue, director of athletics, UC-Davis
Dan Burns, chief executive officer, EXOS
Peter Carlisle, senior vice president and managing director, Olympic and action sports division, Octagon
Gregg Clifton, office managing principal, Jackson Lewis (Phoenix Office)
Ahron Cohen, COO and general counsel, Arizona Coyotes
Woodie Dixon, general counsel and SVP, Pac-12 Conference
Richard Ensor, commissioner, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Troy Ewanchyna, VP and GM, NBCSports.com
Mike Gallagher, principal/founder, Gallagher & Kennedy
Dave Gardi, senior vice president-football operations, National Football League
Jeff Gewirtz, vice president of business affairs and chief legal officer, Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders and Barclays Center
Melissa Goldenberg, SVP and general counsel, Phoenix Suns
Robin Harris, executive director, The Ivy League
Rocky Harris, chief executive officer, USA Triathlon
Bill Hubbard, chairman, Tokio Marine HCC — Specialty Group
Jeff Ianello, executive vice president of client partnerships, Seatgeek
Zaileen Janmohamed, senior vice president, client consulting and services, GMR Marketing
Caleb Jay, senior counsel, Arizona Diamondbacks
Scott Kaufman-Ross, associate vice president, fantasy sports, National Basketball Association
Nina King, deputy director of athletics/administration, legal affairs and chief of staff, Duke University
Travis Leach, partner, chair of sports practice, Ballard Spahr
Nona Lee, senior vice president and general counsel, Arizona Diamondbacks
Burke Magnus, executive vice president, programming and scheduling, ESPN
John Martin, managing director, NASCAR Digital Media
Wade Martin, chief revenue officer, Powdr; president, Powdr Enterprises
Bernadette McGlade, commissioner, Atlantic 10
Lou Melendez, president, Lou Melendez, LLC
Vicky Neumeyer, senior vice president and general counsel, New Orleans Pelicans, New Orleans Saints
Bob Newman, president, AEG Facilities
Dave Palanzo, SVP, legal and business affairs, Women's Tennis Association
Jeff Price, chief commercial officer, PGA of America
Tom Sadler, president and CEO, AZSTA
Bud Selig, commissioner emeritus, Major League Baseball
Debbie Spander, senior vice president broadcasting and coaching at Wasserman
Bryan Sperber, president, ISM Raceway
Naima Stevenson, deputy general counsel, NCAA
Bill Strickland, principal, Strickland Consulting
Ben Tario, senior associate commissioner, business and legal affairs, Atlantic Coast Conference
Travis Tygart, chief executive officer, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency