The Council of Ivy Group Presidents announced last month that Robin Harris, Senior Counsel and Co-Chair in the Collegiate Sports Practice at Ice Miller, LLP, will be the new Executive Director of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents, effective July 1, 2009, and as such the chief executive officer of the Ivy League athletics conference.
“Robin Harris is a dedicated and talented athletics administrator and attorney, with a keen understanding of the importance of academics in intercollegiate athletics and a deep appreciation of the role of competitive athletics as a component of a liberal arts and science education,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann, chair of the Ivy Group.
“She brings a wealth of experience as a leader, advisor, administrator and advocate for colleges and universities in a range of important athletic issues, including academic standards, diversity and gender equity. She also brings extensive national experience within the NCAA. As an advisor to university presidents, athletic directors and coaches, Robin is perfectly suited to promoting the Council’s values as well as to maintaining the Ivy League’s strong competitive presence. I am delighted she will be joining the Ivy Group in this important role.”
Harris told Legal Issues in Collegiate Athletics that she was elated to be tapped for the position. “One of the best things about this job is you get to focus on big picture issues, while at the same time work closely with the athletic directors and their staffs at each of the Ivy institutions.”
In her role as executive director of the Ivy League office, Harris’ responsibilities will include overseeing Ivy League championships, officiating and other athletic administration matters in all 33 Ivy League sports; promoting a positive and competitive experience for approximately 8,000 student-athletes; administering and reviewing Ivy and NCAA rules with regard to recruitment, admissions, financial aid, eligibility, practice, compliance and competition; staffing the Council and coordinating the activities of the Ivy League’s extensive committee governance structure; and representing the Ivy League in NCAA governance and other national organizations, as well as publicly.
Harris joined Ice Miller, LLP in 2002, after serving for nine years in increasingly responsible roles in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), ending her tenure at the NCAA as associate chief of staff for Division I. In that role, she provided advice and guidance to the NCAA president, Executive Committee, Division I Board of Directors, Division I Management Council and other committees in nearly all athletic governance areas, including academic standards, amateurism, championship policies, diversity, gender equity and Title IX, legislative proposals, membership requirements, strategic planning, student-athlete welfare and studies regarding basketball and football concerns. From 1993-1998, Harris was the NCAA’s director for the Committee on Infractions (COI).
Harris is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law, where she served as editor of the Duke Law Journal. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Duke.
She is a member of numerous professional associations, including the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) where she serves as legal advisor to the Board of Directors, National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC).
Harris has been quoted frequently in Legal Issues in Collegiate Athletics and Sports Litigation Alert and has made presentations at numerous NCAA, NACUA and Division I conferences and seminars.
She replaces Jeffrey H. Orleans, a nationally respected leader in both athletics and higher education law, who announced last year he would retire after serving 25 years as executive director.
Throughout his tenure, the Ivy League has consistently provided the country’s widest athletic opportunities for both men and women, finishing among the top conferences in the National Association of College Athletic Directors competitive rankings and producing the country’s best records in the NCAA’s annual Academic Performance Rankings.
“Robin Harris will be a great Executive Director and I look forward to assisting her in this transition,” said Orleans. “We have worked together in many ways and I’m very pleased that she now will be representing the Council and Ivy League athletics.”
The Ivy League is the broadest-based conference in the NCAA, sponsoring Division I championship competition in 33 men’s and women’s sports. The Ivy League includes Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and Yale Universities, the University of Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth College.
One sports law attorney, who didn’t want to be identified, noted that that role that Harris is assuming is a “fantastic position because you don’t have to deal with as many headaches as you would with the traditional Division I powers.”