An HBCU alum is filling the role of the very first chief legal officer and general counsel for a very big conference! Erica McKinley, who graduated from Tougaloo College, has the honor of leading in this new position! Read the release from the Big Ten below to learn about her story, her colleagues, and how she will lead in the new position.
Big Ten Conference has named Erica McKinley its first chief legal officer and general counsel. In this role, she oversees all legal, corporate governance, enterprise risk management, compliance, litigation, regulatory, corporate, and NCAA matters, as well as outside counsel management. McKinley reports directly to Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and will work collaboratively with the Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) and the general counsels at all 14 Big Ten member institutions. She also serves as a key strategic advisor to Commissioner Warren and the conference.
Adam Neuman has served as chief of staff, strategy and operations, in the office of the commissioner and now joins the newly formed legal department as the first deputy general counsel for the conference. As chief of staff and deputy general counsel, Neuman works collaboratively with McKinley, Commissioner Warren and key constituents at all 14 Big Ten member institutions.
“Building a progressive and proficient legal department – during an extremely complex period in intercollegiate athletics – is a transformative step for Big Ten Conference,” said Commissioner Warren. “I am thoroughly energized by welcoming Erica’s extensive and expansive business and legal expertise to our team. Her intelligence, work ethic, leadership and integrity are most impressive.
“Adam is a trusted advisor and talented executive,” Commissioner Warren continued. “He will continue to add incredible value and make a substantial positive impact as he serves as chief of staff and expands his role as deputy general counsel.”
By establishing and formalizing a robust in-house legal team, Commissioner Warren continues his commitment to respect the tradition of the conference, protect the values of the conference, its members, and their constituents, and transform the conference into a sustainable model that creates opportunities for its partners, members and, most importantly, its student-athletes.
McKinley is a savvy business executive with a strong background in collegiate and professional sports. She joins Big Ten Conference after serving as chief legal officer and general counsel at the University of Mississippi where, during her tenure, she was the primary legal advisor for the university. Prior, McKinley was the chief operating officer for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). While at the NBPA, she developed an unwavering commitment to player health, safety and wellness and, protecting player interests both on and off the court. Before joining the NBPA, McKinley served as associate general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. She started her career at two prominent D.C. firms, Arnold & Porter and Akin Gump.
McKinley earned a juris doctorate, summa cum laude, from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1998. After law school, she completed a clerkship on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Fifth Circuit. McKinley graduated from Tougaloo College in 1995, with a bachelor’s degree in English.
Neuman joined Big Ten Conference in January 2020 as chief of staff, strategy and operations. He played an integral role in helping the conference tackle the most complex times in its 125-year history by assuming a leadership role in helping the conference navigate a global health pandemic. Neuman was also a key contributor in establishing the Taskforce for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Mental Health & Wellness Cabinet, and the Equality Coalition, a social justice initiative which supports conference-wide voter registration and civic engagement.
He earned both a juris doctorate and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, with a certificate in business management from the Wharton School. Neuman was an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP, a speechwriter for the president of Yeshiva University, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yeshiva University in 2015.