The Allan "Bud" Selig Sports Law and Business program (SLB) at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University has appointed Aaron Hernandez, former director, as its assistant dean and executive director. Evan Singletary has been promoted from program coordinator to assistant director. The program offers a Master of Sports Law and Business (MSLB), which students may also pursue concurrently with a Juris Doctor (JD).
Hernandez and Singletary will manage the day-to-day operations of the degree program while working to prepare its students for careers in the sports industry. Griffin Limongelli, who graduated from the program in May, will take over for Singletary as the new program coordinator.
"We want to expand the program externally, build strategic partnerships, develop pipeline programs, fundraise scholarship money and grow the brand," Hernandez said of his vision for this new role. "The main goal is to get students jobs in sports."
The program blends the study of sports, law and business to help students receive an employment edge in the competitive sports industry. In 2023, the program enrolled 52 students. Nearly half are or were student-athletes. About 17% are completing the program alongside earning their JD.
Hernandez, an El Paso, Texas, native, was a first-generation law school graduate with no connections in the sports world before he found his way to Marquette University for its sports law program. He credits that experience with helping him find a role with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), where he eventually worked as associate director of football, on the path to becoming an athletic director.
It wasn't until he did a happiness inventory exercise that he discovered the thing that made him happiest was returning to Marquette to help with recruitment.
"It filled me up," he said.
That epiphany brought him to ASU Law and the Selig SLB program, which he said is the only program of its kind.
"Our location, the practical experience the students take part in and the people all set it apart," he said. "Most academic environments function like a business, but there's a culture here. We spend a lot of time vetting and recruiting our students; the result is special. It's a very tight-knit culture and we want to build equity in the program."
One person building equity is Singletary, who graduated with the MSLB in 2022.
"I have the degree and want to play a part in how it grows," he said. "I want to see the degree get better for students, employers and teams. I want to draw high-caliber students."
Singletary has played sports from a young age, including as a track-and-field athlete at the University of California, Irvine. The Los Angeles native worked with the NCAA often and spent some time with the LA Sparks/Chargers/Rams organization. He said the experience behind the curtain of sports teams was eye-opening as an athlete, and made the business and legal side of the industry all the more intriguing.
The new role at the Selig SLB program means that Singletary, who graduated from college with a degree in education, will get a chance to teach in the classroom, all while undergoing extensive training to become an NBA referee.
"I want the program to be known in all aspects of sports," he said. "I'm committed to the program."
What others are saying:
Owner, Arizona Cardinals
"I was thrilled to hear that Aaron Hernandez will be leading the SLB program at ASU. I've known him over the last decade and realize how tremendously well-respected Aaron is throughout the sports industry. He is a consummate professional whose extensive experience at the NCAA level makes him an outstanding choice for this role."
Deputy director of athletics and senior woman administrator, Purdue Athletics
"Aaron Hernandez is one of the sharpest minds in the sports industry. A thought leader and subject matter expert, Aaron's commitment to providing a first-class education to the next group of individuals who will enhance the enterprise is his top priority. The Allan "Bud" Selig Sports Law and Business program is in excellent hands with Aaron Hernandez as its new executive director."
Director of leadership development, NCAA
"The work that Aaron and Evan have put in to grow the ASU SLB program is notable, and the recognition through the promotions announced is worthy. Aaron and Evan have teamed up to take the ASU SLB program from good to great through impactful programming and fostering connections with the students to enhance learning, growth and development. Congratulations to them both."
Chief legal officer, U.S. Soccer Federation
"I have known Aaron for almost 15 years. There is no one in sports who is better prepared to assume the leadership of the SLB program. His experience in multiple sports organizations, his unparalleled professionalism and his passion for creating the best possible environment for students to learn the sports business make him an inspired choice."
George H. McCaskey
Chairman, Chicago Bears
"The SLB program is in very capable hands with Aaron Hernandez at the helm. I'm sure that Aaron, along with Evan Singletary, will continue the good work that Glenn Wong has done. As an ASU Law alumnus, I and many others are looking for big things from the SLB program at ASU in the years to come."
Allan "Bud" Selig
Commissioner emeritus, MLB
"I am very proud to be the namesake of the SLB program and equally proud to be a professor of sports that stresses the history of baseball and its role in our society. Aaron Hernandez was a student of mine 10 years ago at Marquette University, and it gives me great joy that he will be leading this program along with Evan Singletary. I look forward to all the wonderful work they and the SLB program will accomplish in the years ahead."
Vice president for intercollegiate athletics, Penn State University
"I cannot think of a better person than Aaron Hernandez to take over the role of assistant dean and executive director at the Allan "Bud" Selig Sports Law and Business program. Aaron is an effective communicator and an incredible leader. His background and expertise in the sports field will be a huge asset to the students in the program, and I have no doubt that he will take the program to new heights."
Senior associate commissioner, Big West Conference
"Congratulations to Evan on your new role as the assistant director of the Sports Law and Business program. That sounds exciting and challenging. You always sought out ways to be engaged and improve our conference SAAC group as a student-athlete, and you continue to excel in your field by showing that same initiative. I am confident you will continue to thrive as you help shepherd in new students and encourage others to be as passionate as you are."
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