Penn State Gets Proactive, Hiring Boland as Athletics Integrity Officer, Sports Ethics Experts Weigh In

Aug 4, 2017

Robert Boland, the director of the master of sports administration and dual degree MBA/MSA program at Ohio University, has been named Penn State’s athletics integrity officer, following a national search.
Boland, who brings more than 20 years of experience as an attorney in addition to serving as a faculty member, will replace Julie Del Giorno, who has served as the University’s first athletics integrity officer since 2013. Del Giorno will be fulfilling a broader compliance role for Penn State and providing investigative support.
“Bob is extremely well qualified for this position,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “As someone with a background in collegiate athletics, academics and law, he is an ideal fit for this role. In addition to an understanding of athletics and higher education, Bob has first-hand experience in both sports administration and sports law.”
In the position, Boland will monitor compliance with University standards, including those related to issues of integrity, ethics and institutional standards.
“One of the reasons I was attracted to this opportunity at Penn State is that I believe it is a critical position in athletics and higher education moving forward,” said Boland. “I’m an admirer of Penn State and its long-held mission to combine athletic and academic excellence, and I’m eager to join the University and help ensure the integrity of the programs and their connections to the University’s standards.”
The position was created in August 2012 in an agreement with the NCAA, the Big Ten and Penn State. While that agreement will expire in August 2017, the University will maintain the position. Boland will report to the University-wide chief ethics and compliance officer, Regis Becker, and the Board of Trustees’ Legal and Compliance Committee.
Since August 2015, Boland has served as director of the graduate sports administration program and a faculty member at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In each of his two years at the helm of Ohio University’s MSA program, Sports Business International has ranked it as the No. 1 graduate sports business program in the world. Before that, Boland was the founding faculty member of New York University’s graduate program in sports business, from 2001-15. He ultimately served as academic chair, the chief academic officer, of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management from 2011-14. He was awarded the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies Award for Teaching Excellence in 2006 and an award for service in 2014.
Boland has taught classes in law, sports law, sports contracts and antitrust and collective bargaining in sports, and is the co-author of several peer-reviewed studies on sports law subjects. His professional knowledge has made him an expert sought by the media on topics including sports law and business. Before his legal career, Boland held positions in the athletic departments of Columbia University and the University of Tennessee.
Admitted to the bars of New York and Georgia, Boland is an experienced labor, antitrust and criminal attorney, including negotiating player contracts and endorsement agreements for a variety of sports. He has advised professional teams, universities and conferences on legal, economic, stadium and strategic issues. He also brings experience in government service, including serving as a supervising administrative law judge, dealing in due process, procedural and appeals issues for a New York City administrative agency.
Boland earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, where he received varsity letters in football and wrestling, and a juris doctorate from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. Walter Champion, author of Sports Ethics for Sports Management Professionals and a sports law professor at Texas Southern University School of Law, told Sports Litigation Alert that “athletics integrity is an oxymoron, just like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence.” That said, recent events have created a knee-jerk reaction to do something
Legal Experts Weigh In on Growing Emphasis on Sports Ethics
“The infractions at Baylor were of such a heinous, invasive quality that it should not have merely instigated a sea-change in our opinions on athletic integrity,” Champion told Sports Litigation Alert. “If anything, the Baylor scandal should invoke a discussion on feminism in our society as a whole, not just a titillating, myopic witch-hunt against college athletes.”
“The importance of ethical issues in sports governance will increase on the collegiate level,” he told Sports Litigation Alert. “In a certain respect, athletic departments should be aware of stakes involved when their policies violate ethical norms — the disregard for academic standards or the use of illicit favors to tempt students — but a more consistent ethical standard regarding such conduct — with more study and thought — will be needed, especially in an era where ‘big-time’ college sports means a greater opportunity for corruption.”


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