RWU Law caught up with Katherine Sulentic ’09 in what is fast becoming her natural habitat – on the road, between one assignment and the next.
“I’ve covered three states in the last seven days,” says Sulentic, who last fall went to work for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in Indianapolis as assistant director of enforcement in the organization’s major enforcement division.
One of her latest jaunts took her to Hallandale, Fla., where she watched high-school football standouts vie for slots on an elite seven-on-seven travel team – a relatively new development that raises prickly questions about acceptable college recruiting practices. Soon afterward, a Sports Illustrated column noted her (and, by extension, the NCAA’s) presence:
As more than 180 other players tried out Saturday at Hallandale High, Katherine Sulentic watched from the sidelines … to see the phenomenon for herself. She wasn’t investigating anyone in particular. She wanted to gather information… that she could take back to Indianapolis and share with the rest of the
[NCAA’s] enforcement staff so that college sports’ governing body can try to keep football recruiting – which is shady enough as it is – from reaching basketball’s level.
Sulentic shrugs off the high-profile media mention. “I’m a member of a group who’s out in the field looking at the recruiting environment in college football,” she says. “The stop in Hallandale was a part of that mission. Basically I’m an investigator into NCAA bylaw violations, looking into some of the misdeeds in college athletics.”
Not a bad gig for an attorney less than two years out of law school – but Sulentic has grown accustomed to confounding conventional expectations. Straight out of law school, she snagged a coveted associateship in the Boston office of international megafirm Greenberg Traurig, only to trade it in a year later for the NCAA post.
“I was incredibly lucky to work for a law firm that is just amazing,” she says of her time at GT. “I was sad to leave them and they were sad to let me go – but athletics is where my heart is. This is what I was born to do!”
Indeed, before Sulentic started law school, she was working on the receiving end of NCAA rules, providing academic counseling for college athletes, first at the University of Nebraska and later at the
University of Colorado. She turned to RWU Law when she realized her career path had hit a wall.
“I noticed that the senior athletic directors all had law degrees. So I knew that was the next step for me.” Sulentic’s practical experience, combined with her stellar legal background, made her an ideal candidate for the NCAA job – and the travel it entails suits her personality as well. “I get to meet people from all over the U.S. – coaches, administrators, athletes,” she says, adding that the students are a particular source of inspiration. “I admire their persistence; that strength to never give up no matter what the obstacles. If I am going to serve these people, then I’d better be sure to have that attitude myself!”
“It’s the big time and getting bigger for our Ms. Sulentic,” notes Assistant Dean of Career Services Anthony L. Bastone II, who met Sulentic when they both worked at the University of Colorado and later urged her to consider studying law at Roger Williams.
“We’re all incredibly proud of Kathy,” agrees Dean David A. Logan. “She has a bunch of devoted fans back here in New England.”