Jonathan Duncan, the NCAA’s interim vice president of enforcement, has spent a decade and a half immersed in sports and education law, often working closely with the NCAA itself.
Duncan, who begins his new position March 11, will work full-time from the NCAA’s Indianapolis headquarters. He will resign as a law partner at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne to take over the non-legal enforcement leadership role at the NCAA.
Duncan has practiced at the Kansas City firm since 2003 and spent the five years prior at another Kansas City firm, Husch Blackwell. In both instances, education and sports have been the core of his work. He first represented the NCAA in litigation in 1998. Since then, he has served as a legal advisor for the Association and has offered legal counsel to a slew of NCAA committees, working groups and task forces. Most recently, he rendered services to the enforcement working group.
Those experiences, he said, made his decision to accept the NCAA’s offer a natural one.
"The NCAA is an organization that I care deeply about and that I have invested lots of time over the years representing, and I believe in and appreciate the mission of the Association," Duncan said. "I care about protecting the interest of the Association at all times, especially during this critical time.”
Duncan attended William Jewell College – now part of Division II – and graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1995. After law school, he spent two years working as a law clerk for the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Since then, he’s spent 15 years in private practice forging relationships inside the NCAA national office and among the NCAA’s member institutions. Those myriad connections he’s made, he said, will help ease his transition into his new role.
“I feel like I’m in a good position for this challenge given my institutional knowledge of the Association, particularly enforcement reforms,” he said. "I'm looking forward to working with the strong enforcement staff to fulfill the charge entrusted to us by our members."
Prior to formally starting his new role, Duncan already has been meeting with the enforcement staff and NCAA leadership. He will move to Indianapolis, and his family will join him later in the year.
“It is a big change, but fortunately I’ve enjoyed the support of my family and they’re excited about the opportunity,” Duncan said.
As the head of the NCAA’s enforcement division, Duncan won’t simply be tasked with overseeing infractions cases. Examining departmental policies and practices also will be chief priorities, and the job will require a broad focus on the many aspects of ensuring compliance.
“[I anticipate my role] will be overseeing cases that are in the pipeline right now, implementing the reform efforts from the enforcement working group and taking a hard look at the program and making sure that it’s all that the membership needs it to be,” he said.