Home Page Display: 
image title

NCAA takes steps to allow college athletes to get paid … now what?

November 27, 2019

ASU’s Sports Law & Business Program executive director says the devil is in the details when it comes to money

For decades, the NCAA has adamantly opposed the idea of student-athletes being paid to play college sports. That position is no longer tenable.

California recently adopted a law that bans schools in the state from preventing amateur athletes from making money from advertisers, and also permits the athletes to have representation. Other states have followed suit, introducing bills for endorsement deals for college athletes, which now has the NCAA thinking differently.

In late October, the NCAA’s governing board voted unanimously to allow college athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness. However, the timeline for implementing this new change is still vague, and it's still unclear as to how much of the $1 billion in annual revenue pie they’re willing to share.

When they do decide, there will be plenty of issues to sort through, including how much athletes stand to make, how agents will impact the game and whether the new arrangement will put established sports powerhouse universities and colleges at an advantage.

ASU Now talked to Glenn W. Wong, executive director of the Allan “Bud” Selig Sports Law and Business program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, to sort through these new developments.

Man in red tie smiling

Glenn M. Wong

Question: For many years, the NCAA opposed the idea of student-athletes being paid to play college sports. In late October, it decided to explore legislation that may ultimately result in college players being permitted to “benefit” from the use of their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). Why the sudden shift?

Answer: The NCAA’s change of policy — reflected in its decision to begin the process of potentially liberalizing its rules concerning athletes’ ability to benefit from their NILs — appeared to come in response to (1) the passage of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act (SB 206) and (2) the swell of bipartisan support for amateurism reform in other states, many of which will or already have introduced their own NIL legislation. Illinois, New York, Florida and numerous other states could be next in declaring that colleges and universities cannot enforce current NCAA rules that require ineligibility for benefiting from one’s own NIL.

It is important to note that the NCAA formed a committee to study the issue of student-athletes’ NILs prior to the enactment of SB 206 — so, in some sense, the NCAA’s review of the issue was not wholly prompted by state legislation. That said, the sense of urgency in addressing the NIL issue was no doubt ratcheted up by legislative activity in California and elsewhere.

Q: What are the arguments for lifting the restrictions for student-athletes to hire agents and profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses?

A: The primary arguments in favor of liberalizing student-athletes’ access to agents and the ability to benefit from the use of their NIL largely revolve around fairness and equity. College sports are, and have been for quite some time, big business, and many see injustice in the fact that athletes are the only cogs in the machine who cannot access a relatively free and open market for their services. To be sure, athletes who receive scholarships in exchange for their play on the court, field, etc. already receive tremendous compensation, especially as the cost of education continues to rise. But even then, many see a substantial gap between the value of a scholarship and the value — millions per year — that football and basketball players generate for their institutions.

Q: What are the arguments against lifting the restrictions?

A: Numerous arguments have been advanced against permitting college athletes to benefit economically from their NILs, including the complexity of formulating and enforcing a regulatory scheme to oversee the exchange of an athlete’s NIL for “benefits”; the potential impact on competitive balance; the devaluing of education; fundamentally altering the unique nature of college athletics, thereby blurring the line between college and professional sports; and potential detrimental impacts on intrateam dynamics. Another counterargument that has been raised recently is the possibility that athletic donors and boosters may provide money or “benefits” to athletes directly instead of donating to the athletic department.

Q: If the NCAA ultimately decides to amend its rules relating to athletes’ NILs, will players receive direct cash compensation?

A: Not necessarily. Keep in mind that the NCAA has not committed to allowing student-athletes to “profit” from the use of their NILs. In its statement announcing its intent to move forward on legislative solutions to the NIL issue, the NCAA was careful to use the word “benefit,” and not “profit.” “Benefit” might not mean the direct cash payments we often associate with the term “profit.” And even if the NCAA ultimately allows a compensation-for-NIL system, it may require the money to be held in a trust fund available upon the exhaustion of an athlete’s eligibility, as was the initial remedy in the O’Bannon case, or upon the achievement of certain academic benchmarks, including graduation. When it comes to allowing athletes to “benefit” from their NIL, the devil is in the details.

Q: What could the value of the higher-profile athletes’ NILs be?

A: At this point, it is difficult to say in light of the fact that there has never been a truly free and open market for college players’ NILs. That said, some of the players involved in the FBI’s recent investigation of recruiting practices in men’s college basketball received six-figure payments from apparel companies. That provides a starting point in considering the value of the top college basketball players’ NILs. Again, however, it is possible that the NCAA will not permit athletes to receive cash payments and might limit compensation to a currently undefined set of “benefits.” 

It is also important to note here that while very few student-athletes’ individual NILs would command significant sums on an open market, there may be opportunities for Olympic sport athletes to benefit — albeit less lucratively — from the use of their NILs. And NIL payments, if such payments are allowed, will likely come from external third parties, not the institutions. The third-party compensation model therefore imposes no additional direct costs on the institution — aside from the resources that may be expended on enhanced monitoring and compliance efforts; less clear is whether Title IX concerns could spring from this model.

Q: What about competitive balance? Will the higher-profile schools stockpile the best athletes?

A: This is another counterargument that is routinely raised in opposition to liberalizing the NCAA’s amateurism rules. Although it has some intuitive appeal, it is critical to understand that the top schools — those in the Power Five conferences — already recruit and retain the best talent in the country. In other words, the higher-profile schools already land the best athletes under the current amateurism regulations (think Kansas, Kentucky and Duke in men’s college basketball, and Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in football). It is difficult to see that changing even in a system where athletes can derive benefits from their NILs.

In fact, it might be the case that relaxing the amateurism rules may increase competitive balance if smaller schools are able to highlight and promote their programs by focusing on playing time — and the chance for an even bigger payday at the professional level — over immediate compensation.

Q: Many wonder how a market for athletes’ NILs might be regulated. What are some options that NCAA policymakers may be considering as they assess if and how to revise their amateurism rules?

A: One regulatory option that has been discussed in the past and that could be the least restrictive means of policing a compensation-for-NIL system is an independent review board, which would review athletes’ agreements with third parties and determine whether those agreements reasonably reflect that athlete’s market value. Although making decisions on a case-by-case basis would no doubt be a cumbersome task, close scrutiny of individual agreements might be one way to assuage the concerns about a “Wild West,” booster-dominated environment while still allowing athletes to benefit from the third party’s use of their NIL. Should such a regulatory model be used here, the independence of the reviewers and the transparency of their review criteria would be critical. 

Q: Might changes to the NCAA’s amateurism rules lead to fewer college athletes leaving school early for the professional ranks?

A: It is certainly possible that allowing athletes to derive benefits from their NILs while in college might actually lead some athletes to remain in school longer and delay a jump to the pros. The NCAA, whose avowed focus is athletes’ education, would undoubtedly favor that outcome. It is challenging, however, to forecast exactly how relaxed NIL rules might change an individual athlete’s calculus on whether to remain in college or declare for a professional draft or sign a professional contract, as there are a litany of variables that spur those decisions.

That said, it is possible to envision a scenario in which, for instance, a draft-eligible college football player with a fifth-round grade from NFL scouts might be persuaded to remain in school a year longer to improve his draft prospects if he had the ability to receive some — any — compensation during that additional year. That compensation might not come close to what he might make in the NFL, assuming he makes a roster, but it may just be enough to convince him to stay in school another year, finish his degree and improve his draft stock. That could be a win-win for all parties involved.

Q: When can we realistically expect changes in the legal and regulatory frameworks governing college players’ use of their NILs?

A: Not for at least another year, and likely longer. California’s law does not go into effect until 2023, but the NCAA had said that it wants legislative options for reforming its NIL rules by January 2021 — and has also indicated that it might challenge the California law in court, which would further complicate matters. The NCAA’s legislative process is quite deliberative, ostensibly to allow input and discussion by a large membership, and disagreement between member institutions as to whether and how to amend their amateurism rules is likely to arise.

In the meantime, other states — and perhaps Congress — may pass laws similar to California’s that have sooner effective dates. So the sheer amount of regulatory and legislative uncertainty makes it exceedingly difficult to forecast when change might actually be implemented. But make no mistake: Change is coming. NIL reform is not an "if," but a "when" and "how."

Top photo: Sun Devil forward Jalen Graham (left) and guard Rob Edwards box out a St. John’s opponent Nov. 23. ASU won, 80-67. As states and the NCAA explore the possibilities of student-athletes benefiting from their name, image and likeness, many questions arise. Photo by Bob Blanchard

Reporter , ASU Now


Registration still available for Economic Forecast Luncheon

National and local speakers unveil what’s in store for the year ahead

November 26, 2019

The U.S. economic outlook is healthy, according to key economic indicators. Will it remain steady in 2020?

With risks — particularly tariffs on Chinese imports, Fed moves, and potential budget and debt-ceiling standoffs — looming larger, a slowdown looks more likely. Download Full Image

Top experts soon will share their predictions for the state and nation at the Valley’s largest and most trusted economic forecasting event, the Economic Forecast Luncheon. Speakers include Robert J. Barro, the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and professors of economics at ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business Bart Hobijn and Lee McPheters, who is also the director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center and editor of the Arizona and Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast publications.

About 1,000 people are expected to attend the 56th annual Economic Forecast Luncheon at the Phoenix Convention Center — West Ballroom, which is on the southeast corner of Second and Monroe streets in Phoenix, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

To register, visit wpcarey.asu.edu/efl.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business


image title

Rural Arizonans share views with urban citizens but face unique challenges

Tourism, housing, poor roads among rural challenges described at ASU conference.
November 26, 2019

Morrison Institute conference addresses affordable housing, lack of resources

People who live in rural Arizona share many of the same concerns as their urban counterparts, but they also face unique challenges and wish for a bigger share of support from the state, according to speakers at the 10th State of Our State conference held by the Morrison Institute of Public Policy at Arizona State University.

“Rural Arizona Now” was the theme of Monday’s conference, which covered a broad range of issues. Experts described dealing with heavy tourism, complicated relationships with the federal government and a lack of resources for affordable housing and road repairs. Here are the highlights:

'Arizonans Speak'

The Morrison Institute released a poll on Monday called “Arizonans Speak,” a web-based survey of 975 residents balanced for age, gender, ethnicity and location. The respondents, who included both registered voters and nonvoters, answered questions on a variety of topics.

Water quality ranked as the most important policy issue, with 80% of respondents agreeing that it is important, and less than one-fourth of respondents believing that Arizona has plenty of water to meet its needs in the foreseeable future.

For rural residents, water quality tied with health insurance as the most important issue, according to Melissa Kovacs, associate director for research at the Morrison Institute.

“Rural residents are more likely to agree that they use water more efficiently than nonrurals, and that they’re worse off financially than the previous year,” she said.

“They feel less strongly than urban residents that trade with Mexico is an important policy issue.”

Other survey findings:

• 82% of all respondents support requiring background checks for all gun purchases.

• Over half believe the laws covering the sale of guns should be stricter, while just under 10% believe they should be less strict.

• 69% of Republicans agree with the statement, “I support deporting all undocumented immigrants,” while 21% of Democrats do.

• 77% of Democrats agree with the statement, “I believe climate change is a threat to Arizona’s water supply,” while 39% of Republicans do.

• 53% of Republicans agree that “I have confidence in Arizona state government when it comes to handling Arizona’s problems,” while 38% of Democrats do.

A rural identity

Kovacs noted that 18% of the survey respondents indicated that they live in a rural area, but according to their zip codes, only about 5% actually do, based on U.S. Census indicators.

Jonathan Koppell, dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, said that the disconnect isn’t surprising.

“There’s something there when a disproportionate number of people identify themselves as being rural. I would put it to you that rural Arizona is important economically and socially, but it’s important psychologically as well,” he said.

“And the collapse of rural life in America, broader than just in Arizona, has a disproportionate effect on the psychological health of America and the confidence we feel as a country because so much of our identity is bound up in the imagery and lifestyle that we associate with rural America.

“We still think of a cowboy on a horse as a quintessential American image.”

Koppell said that the Watts College, which houses the Morrison Institute, has been working to address problems that affect rural communities, including higher risks of addiction and suicide.

“We’re spending time focused on the most pressing issues, including homelessness, which is of increasing concern not only in urban Arizona, but in rural Arizona, where our forests and parks are often homes of last resort for people who have no other place to live,” he said.

He described the college’s One Square Mile initiative as a “systems integrator,” connecting people and programs in Phoenix’s Maryvale community.

“I predict that one day, one of our One Square Miles will be in rural Arizona,” he said.

Eliminating educational inequity

ASU President Michael Crow showed several charts that described the lower rates of high school graduation, percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree and personal income in Arizona’s rural counties compared with the national average. 

“The number of jobs available in the U.S. economy for a person without a high school diploma has decreased 25% in the last 10 years and will decrease 50% more in the next 10 years,” he said.

“I don’t care whether you think that’s fair or good or bad. Educational attainment is the single most important predictor of social mobility.”

ASU is working to close the educational gap through its ASU Prep Digital online school, which provides math and science coursework in remote schools that can’t attract teachers, and through ASU Online, which offers more than 200 degree programs.

“In a place like Arizona, as massive as it is, what we’re trying to do is construct an institution that’s capable of being present everywhere as needed,” Crow said.

“Let’s talk about education not as a place or an institution, but as a force available to anyone, anywhere.”

Rural challenges

Several experts discussed the challenges that are unique to rural areas of the state, which urban residents often don’t even realize.

Affordable housing: Jane Russell Winiecki, past chairwoman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, said the proliferation of short-term rentals like Airbnb has severely affected the housing market. “The state of Arizona has taken it upon themselves to not let each of the towns and cities make their own decisions for short-term rentals. It’s big government trying to tell all the communities of Arizona that if short-term rentals want to come in, they can do that. It’s devastating to the Verde Valley.”

Matt Ryan, of the Coconino County board of supervisors, agreed that short-term rentals are hurting the housing market. “The last apartment complex in Page was just turned over to short-term rentals. We should be moderate in our approach and say, ‘If you have more than three rentals, you’re operating a business’ and there should be tax equity associated with that.”

Mila Besich, mayor of Superior, said the Resolution Copper project, a proposed mine, could bring many jobs to the area but Superior might not get the full benefits. “Four-hundred-fifty households are expected because of this project, and we don’t have enough housing.”

Broadband: Traci Morris, director of the American Indian Policy Institute at ASU, noted that of the 975 survey respondents, only 44 were Native American. “You know why that is? (The survey) was online. We’re talking about connectivity,” she said. The institute recently released a report showing that people who live on reservations have unequal access to the internet, with 18% having no access and 31% having spotty access. “Telecommunications underpins everything, access to technology, phone, Wi-Fi, the components of what makes life possible in America, whether we like it or not.”

Tourism: Ryan described the impact of heavy tourism in northern Arizona. “We’re being loved to death. There are so many people coming to our region that the impact is tremendous. We have a metro level of visitors but a smaller tax base associated with it.”  He said that tourists will neatly stack up their garbage on the side of U.S. Forest Service roads, expecting it to be picked up. “There’s no trash service out there,” he said.

Poor roads: State Rep. Arlando Teller, who is Navajo and represents District 7, the entire northeastern part of Arizona, said: “I am glad I’m hearing these conversations but what I don’t hear is next steps — how we’re going to do what we need to do about the deteriorating bus routes in tribal Arizona. I was home last week where it snowed, and a school bus had driven off the road. In urban Arizona, you don’t have the issue of ‘How do I get to work when the road is muddy?’”

Natural resources: Jason Whiting, supervisor of Navajo County, said that wildfire is increasingly a threat to his community. “Our forests are very unhealthy right now and the fuel load is not where it’s meant to be,” he said. He also said that the complicated web of federal, state and private land makes it hard to extract valuable minerals from the area.

Lack of social services

In conjunction with State of Our State, the Morrison Institute also released a new research project called “Interactive Maps: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Resources in Arizona.” The online tool draws from the institute’s earlier research project on child neglect in Arizona. The maps show areas where risk factors are high for issues that affect child well-being, such as domestic violence and substance abuse. Overlaid on that are dots that show where services are available.

The maps show a stark picture with many gaps. The Tohono O'odham Nation in southern Arizona is at the highest risk for domestic violence and has only one service provider. Mohave County in the northwest corner of the state is also at high risk, with only two providers.

Research has shown the effectiveness of home-visiting services, in which a nurse or social worker meets with new parents to provide support and knowledge to create a safe home for children. The map shows huge areas with few or no providers.

There are only two substance-abuse treatment providers for the Navajo Nation, and only four in the entire swath of northern Arizona.

Top image: Andrea Whitsett, director of the Morrison Institute, kicks off the 10th State of Our State conference on Monday in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Whole Foods Market 5% Community Giving Day selects ASU Swette Center as local partner

November 22, 2019

Kathleen Yetman grew up knowing where her food came from. She says it was “a magical place,” her grandmother’s quarter-acre backyard garden in the community of Prescott, 100 miles north of Phoenix.

“I spent my childhood roaming the garden, discovering worms, feasting on raspberries, climbing the apple tree and helping my grandmother with tasks like cutting the heads off grasshoppers, sifting compost or harvesting sugar snap peas,” she recalls. woman holding basket of vegetables at farmers market Kathleen Yetman, an ASU food policy and sustainability leader, works at the Prescott Farmers Market, where she serves as executive director.

Today, Yetman is one of 20 Arizona State University graduate students in the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems’ inaugural Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership class. This cohort of changemakers representing the future of food is the recipient of funding support from one of the world’s leading natural and organic food retailers.

On Dec. 4, Yetman will join fellow leadership classmates at the new Whole Foods Market at 750 S. Ash Ave. in Tempe as beneficiaries of the company’s 5% Community Giving Day. On that day, as part of a longstanding commitment to its communities, Whole Foods Market will donate 5% of net sales from the store to support the class in an upcoming hands-on “field trip” across Arizona.

“The 5% Community Giving Day funding from Whole Foods Market will help us connect our food policy students with local practitioners. We will meet with farmers, ranchers, tribal leaders, policymakers, restaurateurs, food processors and advocates for the hungry and absorb their no-nonsense, real-life advice on how to solve challenges for the future of food,” said Kathleen Merrigan, executive director of the Swette Center and former U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture under President Barack Obama. “The connection is a vital one, so these leaders and policymakers of tomorrow may understand firsthand what it means to run a dairy, grow alfalfa, raise beef cattle, produce vegetables, bring product to market and more.”

During the Community Giving Day, students in the leadership class will be on hand to thank customers for their support and to answer questions about the Swette Center, food sustainability degree programs and current policy issues in food system transformation.

Yetman, a former FoodCorps service member on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona, is now the executive director of the nonprofit Prescott Farmers Market. She says the opportunities afforded by her participation in the leadership class and the lessons learned through what she calls the “Swette Center investment” are important cornerstones in her career path.

“To be a part of this program is an honor and a privilege. From my perspective, this program is an extension of the community of support, relationships and connections I was able to forge with FoodCorps. Dr. Merrigan can connect us directly to leaders across the country, building our capacity to make real change in our communities,” said Yetman, who holds a BA in history from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Policy’s not my thing,’ and assume that someone else will step up to do the work. But the reality is that to face the daunting challenges of agriculture, both current and imminent, we need to step up our comfort zones and make policy ‘our thing.’ I am so grateful the Swette Center invests in leaders who are already doing the work on the ground and equips us with the knowledge we need to tackle urgent issues,” she added.

The Dec. 4 Whole Foods Market 5% Community Giving Day serves another purpose, above and beyond the 5% donation, according to Merrigan, who serves as the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at ASU’s School of Sustainability.

“This is a valuable chance to share Swette Center goals with the community,” she said. “Not only is the center producing the next generation of leaders who will stand tall in ability, knowledge, passion and experience, but it is at the forefront of food systems knowledge development. From grounding science around organic production, to working with chefs and food entrepreneurs to make the sustainable food choice the most delicious choice, to improving policy by revealing the true costs of food production, our faculty and staff are engaged in a broad range of meaningful, impactful research.”

Meanwhile, Yetman is just one of many leadership fellows who are thankful for the impact the Swette Center and its programs have had on their futures.

“Earlier this year, I was grappling with issues that felt bigger than me. The leadership program appeared at exactly the right time — I could become the knowledgeable person and help small farmers and ranchers with overwhelming issues,” said Yetman, who has guided the Prescott Farmers Market for five years.

“The trip we will be taking through Arizona is critical in that it offers us the opportunity to apply what we’ve been learning throughout the semester, to put it to the test on the ground. And it provides our group in-depth, uninterrupted time to share our experiences and knowledge with each other so that we become forever resources for one another.”

Written by Steve Des Georges

Event details

Whole Foods Market 5% Community Giving Day

When: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Where: Whole Foods, 750 S. Ash Ave., Tempe.

image title

'Celebration for Resilience' commemorates the past, present and future vitality of Maricopa County

November 21, 2019

Resilience dividends pay off through groundbreaking work that helps county adapt to new threats and challenges

Arizona’s ability to roll with the punches, which shapes and shifts over time, is largely dependent on proactive planning, swift actions and openness to change, according to an Arizona State University educator.

“I see the word resilience as an adaptive term,” said Elizabeth Wentz, the lead researcher of the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER) initiative and dean of social sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. “It’s always shaping, and we have to retain that awareness because as environmental or economic conditions change, we have the capacity to adapt. So it really isn’t an end state but a continual, ongoing state.”

Wentz and members of the year-old KER initiative explored the topic Tuesday night at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden in front of a crowd of nearly 300 people. Attendees included ASU scholars, staffers, members of the nonprofit community and a sprinkling of donors and city officials from Phoenix, Surprise and Scottsdale.

The “Celebration for Resilience” event explained the mission of KER, recognized their 2019 milestones and introduced the new class of 2020 fellows, a “knowledge exchange” of representatives from all sectors tasked with identifying vulnerabilities in their communities and throughout Maricopa County.

According to Wentz, their work is to advance social cohesion, promote economic prosperity and enhance environmental security to create profound and enduring change that brings “resilience dividends.”

KER also awarded the inaugural Resilience Prize to the city of Scottsdale’s Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, an 11-mile oasis located in the heart of Scottsdale that serves as more than just a beautiful recreation area for residents. The greenbelt’s primary function is as an efficient flood-control system. Scottsdale resident Bill Walton's newspaper column in the Scottsdale City Progress helped to launch the project in the 1970s. He later became the city’s planning director.

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust gave $15 million to launch KER in late 2018. Its mission is to build resilient communities in Maricopa County by sharing knowledge, discovering vulnerabilities and responding to challenges together. 

By embedding in the communities of Maricopa County and tapping the expertise of research scientists, citizen scientists, community members and partnership organizations, KER was designed to become a community resource and address pressing issues and needs, fostering positive change and building resilience.

Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of the Piper Trust, said the gift was perfectly matched for KER because of its mission.

“Virginia’s commitment to progress aligns so well with the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience and its mission, which is to share knowledge and solve problems together — all of them,” Rynd said.

Judith Rodin and Michael crow

Keynote speaker Judith Rodin poses for a photo with ASU President Michael Crow at the Celebration for Resilience on Nov. 19. Photo by Laura Segall

Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow said the initiative is vital to ensuring the state’s long-term future growth and progress.

“Maricopa County is now about 4 1/2 million people, roughly the size of Ireland, and it’s going to be growing to 6, 7, 8 million people by 2050,” Crow said. “It’s absolutely essential that we build a modern university that can connect everybody and then begin thinking about resilience. If we do that, we’ll be OK. If we don’t do that, we won’t be OK.”

The initiative is making a pretty good dent so far. In 2019, they engaged 100 community partners and created data-driven models and prototypes that addressed themes such as heat, food, youth, shelter, economic security and health and aging.

Jennifer Vanos, a 2019 fellow and an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability, spent the last year working on a 17,000 square-foot sustainable playground called a “Natural Outdoor Play and Learning Area” at Paideia Academy and Preschool in Phoenix.

The space would be comprised of grass, trees, hedges, mulch, hills, tunnels, caves, walls, gardens and a sand box, Vanos said. Additionally, the play space also comes equipped with a weather station on the roof, which measures temperature, humidity, radiation, wind speed, nitrous dioxide and particulate matter.

“There’s a lot of benefits to bringing natural spaces into urban areas in addition to the different types of learning opportunities this type of space can provide,” said Vanos, who said the playground could also mitigate noise, pollution and shade as well as provide lessons for students on ecology, weather and math.

There are also lots of lessons to be learned about resilience when it comes to the relationship between homelessness and prisons, said Adonias Arevalo, a 2019 fellow who is the community impact manager with Valley of the Sun United Way.

Last year Arevalo worked on a database on how to decrease prison reentry from people who experienced homelessness.

“People who are experiencing homelessness enter local jails after three-to-five violations through a variety of reasons — trespassing, sleeping on the streets or sidewalks, many minor crimes,” Arevalo said. “Arizona is the fourth largest prison population in the country, and we have a lot of work to do when it comes to prison reform.”

Arevalo said working with local policymakers can change this outcome, increase affordable housing in Maricopa County and improve eviction rates. He said more than 50,000 people were evicted from their residences last year and that housing them in jails or prisons is more expensive than housing them in shelters and affordable housing units.

“We have to create more investment into housing, case management, resources and how to deal with this on a more humanitarian level, especially those who are facing mental health issues,” Arevalo said.


Sparky was on hand at the resilience event to mingle with guests, including 2019 fellow Edmund Williams (left) and Sandra Price. Photo by Laura Segall

Wentz said the 2020 fellows will be expanding the definition of resilience by looking into areas of energy, security, disease, transportation, urban farms and food access.

Food access is important to 2020 fellow Terra Rose Ganem, who is the director of Brilliant Planet. Her Mesa, Arizona-based nonprofit is dedicated to seeding and sowing an organic living laboratory that feeds families who suffer from food insecurity challenges by helping them grow more than 75 different types of food and edible plants.

“Resiliency offers an opportunity for action and a positive spin on the challenges of the world today,” said Ganem, whose organization has a long term lease on a one-acre plot of land near the intersection of Power and McDowell roads on a county island in Mesa. “We really want to create an area where people can see what’s possible. Until we see it sometimes, we don’t actually know what we’re capable of. These people can create food and economic security for themselves.”

Libraries are also looking for ways to survive and stay relevant said 2020 fellow Michael Simeone, who is the director for data science and analytics at ASU Library.

“I’m interested in learning how libraries are related to community resilience,” said Simeone, who will be collecting data on local libraries and interviewing staff members. “If we’re looking at resilience as an ability to endure hardship and spring back in a more adaptive form, libraries do this in a way that people don’t always appreciate. They educate people so they can have more economic ability, they give access to knowledge and resources, and they are hubs for free information. All of these things have a key relationship to resilience.”

Keynote speaker Judith Rodin, the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, praised Crow as a national “thought leader” and saluted the initiative in her remarks.

“ASU has the power to be a great agent of change and must serve as a model of civic engagement for students and its neighbors,” said Rodin, who wrote “The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong in 2014. “In today’s dizzyingly complex world, universities have a tendency to isolate everyone in their ivory towers. Over the past decades, a host of universities like ASU have breathed new life into their communities.”

Top photo: Elizabeth Wentz speaks at the Celebration for Resilience event Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Photo by Laura Segall

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU Hugh Downs School awarded $10,000 to study loneliness and isolation

November 21, 2019

Faculty and graduate students from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication were awarded $10,000 from the Tempe Community Council (TCC), an agency of United Way and a partner of the city of Tempe, for its Storyscope Project, a storytelling format that fosters inclusiveness and cultivates connections and compassion. 

The Tempe community was invited by the TCC to submit their innovative solutions to help alleviate isolation and loneliness by strengthening connections between people in Tempe as part of its first-ever Connector Award. Award amounts ranged from $500 to $50,000.  A mural at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa inspired by a Storyscope Project. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute Download Full Image

Jennifer Linde, a Hugh Downs School principal lecturer and artistic director of The Empty Space, submitted the Storyscope Project for consideration and was one of five projects awarded funding. Storyscope will partner with Unity of Tempe to complete the project. 

“The Storyscope Project allows everyone involved to express their unique stories, make connections, feel a sense of belonging and participate in inclusive communities,” Linde said.

Linde’s team included Hugh Downs School doctoral students Lauren Mark, Rob Razzante, Tyler Rife and school alumnus and civil communication research fellow, John Genette. The school partnered with Rev. Linda Park-Fuller, a former assistant professor of performance studies at the Hugh Downs School.    

Linde says the Storyscope Project will make a difference and reduce isolation in two ways. 

“First, the Storyscope Project creates connection through story sharing,” she said. “Humans are natural storytellers. Sharing and listening to other’s experiences is one way people develop connections with others.” 

“Second, by collecting empirical data, we can do research to pinpoint exactly where connections are being made. With this knowledge, we can more effectively advocate storytelling and sharing as inclusive communication and a means to reduce social isolation.”

Community members participated in the mural project at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute. 

Linde says quantitative and qualitative data will be gathered through post-Storyscope surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Data analysis will be conducted by members of the I-4C research collaborative at the Hugh Downs School.  The school is further supporting this initiative by providing an internal seed grant of $5,000.   

Phase one of the Storyscope Project, which includes training story circle facilitators, making community contacts and planning and scheduling Storyscope events, is already underway. 

Ideally, Linde would like the Storyscope project to be utilized by any organization seeking to generate connections and address the problem of social isolation and loneliness. 

Recently Linde and Genette were asked by the Mesa Arts Center to hold a Storyscope event to help gather stories from the community to create murals in Guerrero Park. The project was funded by the Urban Land Institute, whose stated mission is to “strengthen communities through supporting art and culture in neighborhoods.” 

“John and I offered the Storyscope process to the organizers so that community members could share their stories with the mural artists,” Linde said. “The intent was for the artists to listen to the stories and turn their words into art.” 

An artist creating a mural inspired by stories of community members at Guerrero Rotary Park in Mesa. Photo courtesy of Arizona Urban Land Institute

In the end, 12 mural artists crafted a 270-foot long mural collaborating with about 250 community members of all ages to implement the project. 

“We are excited that the Storyscope project is a part of local communities like Mesa and Tempe and that people are finding ways to share their stories with others,” Linde said.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


image title

ASU team takes first place at inaugural Regents' Cup debate competition

November 21, 2019

Daylong event at University of Arizona showcases Arizona’s public universities' commitment to freedom of expression

Arizona State University students Valielza O’Keefe and Joshua Pardhe took first place in the inaugural Regents’ Cup debate competition this weekend, each winning $16,600 in a one-time scholarship to further their educational goals.

Second place was awarded to University of Arizona students Vincent Jasso and Finley Dutton-Reid. Taking third place were ASU students Jessica Carter and Logan Guthrie, and UArizona students Nyah Fyfe and Marnie Gyorffy.

MORE: The inspiration and practice ahead of the Regents' Cup

Thirty-six students on two-student teams from Arizona’s public universities competed during the daylong event at UArizona on Saturday, a competition showcasing Arizona’s public universities' commitment to freedom of expression. Subjects debated included how (if at all) social media sites should regulate speech, free speech on college campuses, and if the United States should have tougher libel, slander and defamation laws.

“It was inspiring to watch our students so eloquently debate the topics of free speech and civil dialogue, both of which are vital to the health of our democracy,” said Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost at ASU. “I was particularly impressed that Valielza and Joshua, our winning ASU students, are majoring in physics and engineering, which underscores the importance that ASU places on learning experiences that transcend traditional academic disciplines.”

The second-place winning team received one-time scholarships totaling $12,450, and third-place winners took home a $6,225 scholarship. Each of the remaining student competitors was awarded a $500 one-time scholarship.

“The inaugural Regents’ Cup was not only a pleasure to watch, but it was an honor to participate in by awarding scholarships and presenting the cup to the winning team,” said Regent Karrin Taylor Robson, who envisioned the event. “I am deeply proud of all of our students who presented compelling arguments and conducted themselves in an exemplary and professional manner, one that was characterized by civil discourse and respect.”

This inaugural competition featured reasoned debate during an era when free-speech issues on college campuses are part of the national conversation. Arizona’s public universities are recognized as exemplars in free speech; Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona are all recognized with a green light rating, the highest rating by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

During the all-day competition, student teams participated in rounds of civil dialogue, solutions debate, persuasive storytelling and Oxford-style debate. 

Girls-only cybersecurity event attracts hundreds to ASU West campus

November 20, 2019

Eighth grade student Debbie from Country Meadows Elementary School in Peoria dreams of becoming a computer programmer someday. But until this week, she had never met a woman in that role.

“It taught me that just because you’re a woman, doesn’t mean you can’t do different things," she said. "It gave me a little bit more confidence.” Middleschool girls attend ASU’s CyberDay4Girls Heather Ricciuto, IBM Security's academic outreach leader, engages hundreds of middle school girls eager to learn more about cybersecurity careers. Photo by Heather Orquiz/ASU Download Full Image

Debbie was one of hundreds of middle school students participating in CybersecurityDay4Girls on Arizona State University's West campus this week.

“It’s important to make a specific reach to girls because they don’t see themselves in these roles yet,” said Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for the Global Security Initiative.

ASU’s CybersecurityDay4Girls was hosted in partnership with IBM to introduce young girls to the field of cybersecurity. Middle school girls are the focus of this program because women are typically underrepresented in cybersecurity roles. 

“We started IBM CybersecurityDay4Girls in 2016 because we recognized a gap. … We needed to get to girls earlier, so we decided to target middle school girls and work with them to bring awareness of cybersecurity (opportunities),” said IBM’s Heather Ricciuto.

CybersecurityDay4Girls covers topics to help middle school students and their families stay safe online in an ever more connected world. The program also introduces more advanced concepts like cryptography and blockchain. This exposure provides students with a better understanding of cybersecurity as a career and encourages them to consider pursuing it further.

Hallie Schukai is a sophomore studying computer science in the Fulton Schools of Engineering. “If I was that 12-year-old girl sitting in there right now, I would be absolutely thrilled because making it all about these middle school girls is amazing," she said. "I wish I had had it when I was their age.” 

It was also an opportunity for participants to meet and hear from female professionals already working in cybersecurity. These role models shared their personal journeys that led to their positions today, along with explanations of what their jobs entail.

Winterton moderated a panel discussion between students and female cybersecurity professionals. “They don’t have a lot of people to look up to, so by bringing them together and showing them there are actually a lot of female leaders in cybersecurity … then they can start to see what kind of careers they might be good for.”    

IBM has hosted nearly 100 CybersecurityDay4Girls events in 10 countries since 2016. This week IBM partnered with ASU for CybersecurityDay4Girls in conjunction with the 10th annual NICE conference (National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) in Phoenix. The annual NICE Conference and Expo brings together thought leaders from industry, government, academia and nonprofit organizations to address the community's cybersecurity education, training and workforce needs.

Richard Holland

Director Marketing and Communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences


W. P. Carey School announces 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame members

Top business leaders to be honored at Nov. 22 event

November 19, 2019

Five Arizona State University graduates will be inducted into the 42nd annual W. P. Carey School of Business Alumni Hall of Fame on Friday, Nov. 22. This year's class is comprised of a food industry executive who has built and operated major franchise brands, a technology executive who provided financial guidance and leadership to a multinational technology conglomerate, a health care executive who dedicated his career to the strategic direction and financial well-being of Arizona residents, the highest-ranking African American executive working in college sports and a Clio Award-winning marketing executive and entrepreneur.

Previous inductees come from such diverse organizations as the Arizona Public Service, Avnet, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Native American Connections and Sony. Download Full Image

"Each of our honorees has been selected for their significant contributions to their professions, the community, and the W. P. Carey School of Business," Dean Amy Hillman said. "Together, they bring great awareness to students that you can reach your goals in any industry with a high-quality education, commitment and hard work."

The 2019 W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are:

William Van Epps (BS in marketing, '71) William Van Epps is CEO of New England Authentic Eats LLC. For 45 years, Van Epps has had an extraordinary record driving growth in foodservice, retail and franchising, including 31 years in the international arena. His experience ranges across many household names in the restaurant industry, from Papa John's International to Long John Silver's Inc. and Shake Shack. Van Epps serves on the board of advisers for New England Authentic Eats LLC, Walhburgers and Locknet (a lock and security door manufacturer). 

Larry Carter (BS in accountancy, '74) — Larry Carter joined Cisco in January 1995 as vice president of finance and administration, chief financial officer and secretary. In July 1997, he was promoted to senior vice president of finance and administration, CFO and secretary. Carter was elected to the Cisco board of directors in July 2000. In May 2003, upon his retirement as CFO and secretary, he was appointed senior vice president, office of the chairman and CEO. He retired in November 2008. Carter was a member of Cisco's board of directors until 2014 and is currently a trustee and founder of the Cisco Foundation and a member of the CHP 11-99 Foundation board of directors.

Richard Boals (BS in accountancy, '79) — Richard Boals served as CEO at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc. from April 2003 to July 2017. Boals joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) in 1971 and served in a variety of capacities, seeing it through numerous years of growth and success. Before beginning his career at BCBSAZ, he served four years in the United States Air Force. Boals currently serves on the Arizona Biosciences board, the board of Phoenix Children's Hospital and Northern Arizona University's Innovations Advisory Board. He is a member of Arizona Tech Investors, ASU President's Club and the W. P. Carey School of Business Dean's Council.

Kevin Warren (MBA, '88) — Kevin Warren is the commissioner-elect of the Big Ten Conference, officially commencing duties on Jan. 2, 2020. Warren will be the first African American commissioner of an Autonomous 5 Conference. Before joining the Big Ten Conference, Warren was chief operating officer of the Minnesota Vikings. Warren and his wife, Greta, are active members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul community where they support several local elementary schools, scholarships for first-generation college students and the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.

Matthew Michalowski (BS finance, '09) — Matt Michalowski is the president and founder of PXL, a creative technology agency that works with the world's largest blue-chip media brands, including NBCUniversal, 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Sony, among others. In 2012, on his 25th birthday, Michalowski embarked on his own and founded PXL. Over the next seven years, PXL would work on the marketing campaigns for some of the biggest theatrical releases, including "Bohemian Rhapsody," "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "The Revenant" — winner of the 2016 Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2019, PXL was acquired by Studio City, an entertainment marketing agency specializing in television. 

Alumni, business leaders and students will attend the W. P. Carey Alumni Hall of Fame event on Friday, Nov. 22, at McCord Hall Plaza on ASU's Tempe campus. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m. Advance registration is requested at wpcarey.asu.edu/alumni/hall-of-fame or by calling 480-965-3978.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business


image title

ASU students come up with innovative ideas for Arizona Opera to grow revenue

ASU students help Arizona Opera find ways to grow revenue beyond ticket sales.
November 19, 2019

Immersive storytelling, craft nights among concepts at pitch competition

Like many arts organizations, the recession was tough on Arizona Opera, which is now working to ensure its financial future. In its 47th season, the opera company is partnering with Arizona State University to find new ways to grow revenue.

“It’s a massive problem for us to figure out how to make this centuries-old art form not just survive but become vibrant and exciting for people in a new millennium,” said Joseph Specter, president and general director of Arizona Opera.

Last week, a student pitch competition at ASU came up with several innovative ways for the company to repurpose its assets to promote itself, create a new fan base and make money beyond ticket sales.

“If I was to say to you, ‘I want the fastest way to raise capital,’ none of you would say, ‘Let’s start an opera company,’” Specter told the students.

“But why can’t this group here today be the one to figure out how that works?”

Specter gave the students the financial background of the company and discussed its resources, including a black box rehearsal space, offices, a parking lot, a warehouse and a huge LED wall, which the company already rents out.

More than 30 students from the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts divided into nine teams and spent the afternoon coming up with ideas.

The winning team, three MBA students, proposed using the company’s woodworking shop and costume shops to hold “craft nights” for families, with beer, wine and desserts. Other ideas were:

• Using the black box rehearsal space for an escape room adventure.

• Renting parking spaces at the downtown Phoenix building through the AirGarage app.

• Installing solar panels to save money and possibly sell excess electricity.

• Selling meet-and-greet events with the performers and behind-the-scenes tours.

• Creating a library of short performance videos for a subscription service.

• Making virtual-reality content so users can feel like they’re on stage with the performers.

• Creating a pop-up event with a “silent disco,” shops and food trucks.

• Using the company’s large LED screen for customized conferences.

One group suggested the company partner with other arts organizations on a coordinated campaign for social justice issues.

“There’s a need for this, and over history, art has been used to spread awareness of social issues,” said Vivian Chen, who’s majoring in finance and accounting.

“There’s a large population of people donating to social causes that you can tap into. This year you have the show ‘Fellow Travelers,’ tied to LGBTQ awareness, so take it one step further, build on the concept and have Arizona Opera be an entity known for spreading social justice.”

Chen’s teammate, Chase Gordon, described the plan: Engage with community partners on art exhibits, panel discussions and education sessions during the first week of a typical monthlong production.

“Then in the final week, hold a gala to bring in donors and try to raise money to get that revenue stream beyond tickets,” said Gordon, a global management major.

When asked if they had ever been to an opera, only a handful of students raised their hands. But they were eager to spread the word among their young-adult peers. Louise Hardman and Ryan Gunderson, both MBA students, teamed up to present the idea of immersive storytelling experiences.

“These escape rooms are trendy among millennials and Gen Z, who might not be inclined to go to the opera, and it will expand the live experience for current opera enthusiasts,” Gunderson said.

“We want the immersive storytelling to stay true to the opera brand,” Hardman said. “The biggest takeaway is the additional $2 million of earned revenue over five years.”

The winning team included MBA students Sivagurunathan Manickavasagam, Ashwath Rajagopalan and Zac Stucki. They were inspired by Stucki’s visit to a natural history museum, in which his family made craft items.

“Families could come and make a craft centered on the opera,” Stucki said. “There’s a lot you can do with minimal resources.”

Specter explained to the students that Arizona Opera was near financial disaster in 2013. When he was hired in 2016, Specter helped the company reinvent its financial and artistic model.

The “aha moment” was when the organization looked at peer opera companies, which receive about three-quarters of their revenue from donations and the rest from ticket sales. Arizona Opera received about two-thirds of its revenue from donations.

Contemporary operas draw more donations, so now the company performs more of those, like “Fellow Travelers,” about homophobia in the McCarthy Era, than the traditional works, like "La Bohème."

“When it comes to those beloveds, our income potential on ticket sales is high, and with new works, ticket sales can be variable, but we have a high potential for donations,” Specter said.

Friday’s pitch competition, which awarded a $5,000 grand prize, is part of the company’s OnPitch Business Challenge, an invitation to the entire community to create new funding concepts, with $25,000 in prize money to be awarded. All of the ASU student groups at Friday’s event are invited to enter their ideas. The competition, funded by a grant, is intended to decrease the company’s reliance on donations and ticket sales.

“That piece is important because if we come up short, we can’t sustain the organization,” Specter said.

Top image: To boost donations, Arizona Opera has performed more contemporary operas, and in 2017, commissioned "Riders of the Purple Sage," an adaptation of Zane Grey’s novel. The company will performed the show again in February and March. Photo courtesy of Arizona Opera.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now