One of the nation’s top sports law educators, Glenn Wong, has been appointed director of the Sports Law and Business Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Wong, who currently serves as a distinguished professor of practice in the program, will be replacing current director, professor Rodney K. Smith, a founding member of the program and catalyst for the program’s national recognition.
Prior to joining ASU Law, Wong was a professor and department head at the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he is a professor emeritus. During his 36 years there, he served as interim athletics director and taught a wide variety of courses pertaining to sports law.
“Professor Wong’s appointment allows us to continue the tremendous work started by Professor Smith who developed a unique program that melds law, business and athletics to prepare graduates to serve in the sports industry,” said Douglas Sylvester, dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. “We are honored that professor Wong has agreed to lead the program. He not only brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, but is thoughtful and analytical about the short and long term strategy. He is the perfect person to usher the program to the next level.”
Beyond his academic work, Wong has served as a lawyer, consultant and arbitrator for a number of organizations within the sports industry, including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the PGA of America, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Sports Illustrated, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He is a past president of the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) and continues to serve as an SLA Board member.
Smith will be moving to Utah, where he will become the director of the new Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University.
As a seasoned veteran in the sports law field, Smith saw a need for professionals in the sports industry to have training in both law and business to better understand regulatory and revenue issues. This led to discussions with ASU about creating what is now the Sports Law and Business Program.
“We can’t stress our appreciation enough for professor Smith and his role in not only bringing this program to the law school, but joining the faculty to build the program from the ground up to the nationally recognized program it is today,” Sylvester said.
Through ASU Law’s Sports Law and Business Program, students can earn a Master of Sports Law & Business (MSLB) degree — the only graduate program in the United States that expressly combines sports law, business and athletics.
Smith worked with Michael Mokwa, Tillman Foundation distinguished professor of the W. P. Carey School of Business and associate director of the Sports Law and Business Program to craft an all-inclusive program that offers an integrated MSLB curriculum partnership with the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Arizona State University Department of Athletics.
“Beyond building out his vision for a unique graduate program melding sports law and business, Rod’s relentless work with students in the classroom and outside the classroom directing research projects and honing the students’ problem solving skills was exemplary,” Mokwa said.
While Smith laid the foundation for an innovative program, ultimately the students’ success in the industry was a key component of the program’s design. “Rod is one of the most student-oriented professors with whom I have worked at ASU. The students, faculty and sports community respect his energy and engagement,” Mokwa said.
And it is clear Smith’s impact will continue long after the students have graduated.
“Professor Smith helped me understand the ins and outs of the sports industry and showed me how I can apply my skills and knowledge to any situation. Most of all, professor Smith taught me how to solve problems and not ignore them,” said Scott McAllister, a former student of Smith and account executive for the Phoenix Suns. “It is a skill that has already benefited me in my career and will continue to throughout the rest of my life. His impact on the program goes without saying, and I know it is in great hands moving forward with professor Wong. I’m excited to see what the future will bring for the program.”
“Professor Smith provided a great opportunity to broaden my understanding of the sports industry from both the regulatory and business perspectives,” said Aaron Ostrovsky, a former student of Smith and manager of group sales for the Phoenix Suns, Mercury and Rattlers. “I have benefited greatly from his guidance, and I know that he will do great things at Utah Valley University. He has left the program in a great position, and I am eager to see it grow further under professor Wong’s direction.”
Wong’s appointment continues the program’s innovative approach to providing students a hands-on learning experience.
“Glenn is an exceptional and prominent educator, scholar and academic administrator. There is no one with more experience or knowledge about the field of sports law and business education,” Mokwa said. “He genuinely understands the needs of the sports industry and the educational experiences that our students will need to perform effectively in the industry. His leadership will enhance the positive trajectory of the SLB (Sports Law and Business) program.”
Written by Karen Sung, Karen.Sung@asu.edu, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law