NFL Player Engagement and the NCAA Leadership Development unit have been collaborating on programs for over three years. From the NFL-NCAA Athletic Professionals Workshop to the NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy and various other initiatives, these two organizations have provided opportunities for athletic professionals, active and former NFL players. We sat down with the Assistant Director of Leadership, Justin Paysinger, to talk about his role and the initiatives that he’s working on.
1. What does the Leadership Development department at the NCAA do and what is your role?
The NCAA Leadership Development unit provides personal and professional developmental opportunities for student-athletes, coaches, and administrators throughout all three divisions. My role is the Assistant Director of Leadership Development. Currently, I am the primary administrator for the following programs: Student-Athlete Leadership Forum, NCAA-AFCA Future Football Coaches Academy (FFCA), NFL-NCAA Summit (there are four programs within the summit), and Life Skills. Additionally, I oversee some internal and external collaborations and projects.
2. Where were you before coming to the NCAA and what advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in college athletics?
Before the NCAA, I spent four years at Texas Tech University as the Director of Student-Athlete Affairs. In this role I was responsible for all student-athlete development efforts for every team. Also, I served on various committees within the athletic department as well as on campus and in the Big 12 Conference. My other role at Texas Tech was athletic academic advisor for Men’s and Women’s Golf. Prior to being at Texas Tech, I was a football student-athlete at San Jose State University where I served as a leader both on my team and across all teams as well as within my conference. Fortunately, I was able to complete both my Bachelors and Master’s degrees in my time as a student-athlete which afforded me opportunities to gain great experiences that have assisted me in getting to where I am today. My advice to someone looking to pursue a career in college athletics, outside of a dedication to academic attainment, is to develop a quality professional network and find ways to get experience related to the area of athletics in which you aspire to work. In this field of work you need to have practical experience as well as a solid network that can connect you to great professional opportunities. Also, it is ideal to have a strong set of mentors. These individuals will be a vital aide in your personal and professional growth throughout your career.
3. What are some of the initiatives that you’ll be launching in 2014 and how can college student-athletes get involved?
The main initiative we are excited about is an online continuing education system that will help the membership gain knowledge and experience in various developmental topics. This will be a great tool to utilize because, currently, most of our curriculum is only experienced onsite at a program. The continuing education system will provide the chance for learning when desired and not just when a person is selected to attend one of our programs.
4. Where can student-athletes turn to for additional leadership resources on their campus or elsewhere?
Student-athletes need to visit with their Life Skills or Student-Athlete Development administrator to learn about the resources being offered on their campus. Coaches, athletic directors, academic advisors, and guidance counselors can provide this information as well. Also, resource information can be found on the NCAA website, ncaa.org. Additionally, student-athletes are free to contact me or anyone on our team to learn more about the resources being offered.