The NCAA has announced the hire of a proven internal senior leader with deep experience in legal and regulatory affairs to serve as the Association’s first vice president of hearing operations. Naima Stevenson Starks, formerly NCAA deputy general counsel and managing director of academic and membership affairs, assumed her new role June 3. NCAA President Mark Emmert created the position following recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball.
“Naima brings to this critical role a wealth of knowledge of the issues facing the NCAA and a strong record of supporting the Association’s infractions and regulatory processes,” Emmert said. “Her experience will assist our membership in providing a more strategic direction and vision to our accountability processes, which will strengthen college sports.”
As vice president of hearing operations, Stevenson Starks will serve as direct liaison to the NCAA Committees on Infractions and Infractions Appeals Committees in all three divisions and oversee the staffs that support these committees. These committees decide on penalties for member schools and involved individuals who violate NCAA rules.
She also will provide strategic coordination for the NCAA’s new Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which stems directly from the Commission on College Basketball’s recommendation to bring more outside voices and expertise into the NCAA’s infractions process.
Specifically, Stevenson Starks will serve as the NCAA’s primary liaison with the new Independent Accountability Oversight Committee, Infractions Referral Committee and the Independent Resolution Panel. These new committees, along with a new group of independent investigators and advocates who will constitute the Complex Case Unit, begin their work Aug. 1.
In her new role, Stevenson Starks also will function as a primary spokesperson for the NCAA’s infractions process. She will report directly to NCAA Chief Operating Officer Donald Remy.
“The NCAA’s infractions process is one of the highest-profile elements of college sports, and we are fortunate that someone of Naima’s experience and caliber is right here with us to assume this vital new role,” Remy said. “She has proven herself as an effective senior leader, is highly regarded by our membership, and I am confident she will immediately bring direction, stability and new energy to our strengthened efforts to hold rule breakers accountable.”
Greg Christopher, current chair of the Division I Committee on Infractions and vice president of administration and director of athletics at Xavier, served on the search committee for the new vice president. He praised the NCAA for creating a specific senior-level executive position to coordinate and unify new and existing processes to enforce rules and determine accountability.
“This is an important position and an outgrowth of the Commission on College Basketball recommendations,” Christopher said. “Our enforcement and infractions processes have undergone numerous changes and efficiency improvements in recent years. As we look forward, this was the next logical step: changing the landscape to bring all facets of the process together. I look forward to interacting with Naima on this impactful work.”
Jonathan R. Alger, president of James Madison University, is a member of the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee and served on the vice president search committee. He stressed that Stevenson Starks is the experienced and thoughtful leader the NCAA and its member schools need at this important juncture in the history of the Association.
“Naima distinguished herself with the search committee both with her combination of institutional knowledge and her direct involvement in supporting the Commission on College Basketball,” Alger said. “I am certain she will provide meaningful direction and guidance as the Association moves forward in its new infractions paradigm.”
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Stevenson Starks joined the NCAA’s office of legal affairs in May 2006 as assistant general counsel after a career as a private attorney at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C. She was hired in part to provide legal support and expertise to the Association’s infractions process. After being promoted to associate general counsel and deputy general counsel, she was also named managing director of academic and membership affairs in 2016 and combined those roles while keeping her deputy general counsel duties.
Stevenson Starks is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned her undergraduate degree at Maryland, where she majored in government and politics and Afro-American studies. She is married to Stephen Starks, vice president of promoter and media partner relations for IndyCar.