Living the (Sports) Dream

Most graduates would agree their goal after getting a higher education or post-graduate degree is to land or start their dream career.

Some recent graduates of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in the Master of Sports Law & Business (MSLB) Program say they can’t count their blessings enough. Landing sought after jobs and internships at places like the NCAA to the NBA, students credit the MSLB Program for not only getting their foot in the door, but for opening the doors in the first place.

Ryan Milne
Ryan Milne at NBA headquarters in Secaucus, NJ

“I’m in heaven. I used to have a cubicle job before this that I dreaded. Now I enjoy going to work. I actually wake up excited,” said Ryan Milne, MSLB ’16 graduate, when asked about his first week on the job at NBA headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey.

“I’m a game reviewer. We watch NBA games and evaluate the calls the referees make and tell them how they're doing,” Milne explained. “Conversely, the report lets teams know how the game was officiated; which calls were correct and which calls they missed.”

Milne went to Colorado College to play basketball in the hopes of becoming a professional player. After college he went on to play in Brazil, Canada, Germany and Dubai, but ultimately knew playing professional basketball was not in the cards for him. Still, he wanted a career in sports, especially basketball. That’s when he decided to go back to school.

“I hated school growing up. I went to college and I was an athlete student,” Milne confided. “Because of the competition for jobs in the sports industry you have to do what you can to boost your resume and gain an advantage over everyone else.” Sports is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States and may soon exceed trillion dollars globally. The opportunities in the industry for graduates who understand the legal and business forces involved in solving problems faced by the sports industry is tremendous but also competitive.

Kevin Hansen
Kevin Hansen

That’s what Kevin Hansen, LLM ’16 graduate, discovered when he graduated with a law degree from the Valparaiso University School of Law and was stuck trying to find a job.

“No one was hiring at the time,” said Hansen. With a background in compliance, he always wanted to work in sports but didn’t have the experience to get the job. That’s when Hansen decided to look into master’s programs in the sports industry with an emphasis on business and law.

“In law school you learn criminal law, business law, bankruptcy. The Sports Law & Business Program is a whole year just talking about sports,” Hansen said. “The time I had to focus on the industry gave me so much more knowledge than before. It’s invaluable.”

Hansen is now with Texas Tech's athletics department working in compliance, but his dream is to one day become an athletic director (AD). While at ASU Law, Hansen worked for Professor Glenn Wong, director of the SLB Program.

“He’s kind of a big deal!” Hansen exclaimed as he describes working for Wong as his research assistant.

Wong, who served a stint as the University of Massachusetts’ interim AD, is well known in sports law circles. As an attorney and immediate past president of the Sports Lawyers Association, Wong also works with Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport on arbitration matters.

“Professor Wong worked us like we were working for a law firm. We had weekly meetings to keep us on task, email and phone conversations,” Hansen explained. “The experience was invaluable and prepared me for the job.”

Hansen also worked closely with Wong on a report on ADs, that offers insights into what is rapidly becoming one of the most influential and powerful management positions on college campuses, a trend that can be attributed in large part to the revenue explosions occurring at the NCAA Division I level.

“My career goal is to become an AD of a division 1 school. College sports is going to be different in five to ten years with payment of college athletes and financial aid,” Hansen shared. “That’s my long term goal. Short term goal is to do the best job I can and gain more knowledge and hopefully work my way up in compliance.”