Faculty Spotlight: Piper Brewster

Piper, originally from Napa Valley, has always been passionate about sports. Although not an athlete in the traditional sense, she was a basketball and football cheerleader in high school and closely followed other sports including summer baseball.

Desirous of staying at a religious-based school after attending a catholic high school, she attended Saint Mary’s College for her undergraduate studies, where she discovered Kinesiology. However, apprehensive about specializing only in this area, she decided to double-major in Business Administration and Kinesiology (Sports Management). While at SMC, she pursued her interest in the sports industry by working behind the scenes with SMC’s baseball team, by collaborating with Graduate Kinesiology alum Ryan Reggiani in the Sports Information Office, where she worked games for basketball and soccer, and by obtaining a business marketing internship with the Oakland Raiders.

After SMC, Piper went to law school at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU) in Pleasant Hill, Calif., which she chose because the program gave her the flexibility to work at the same time. She was fortunate to have been offered one of only six internships in the law department of the general counsel of the Oakland Coliseum where she helped implement policies required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At JFKU, Piper was particularly influenced by a sports law class, taught by a former sports agent, that included content related to the laws and policies of intercollegiate athletics. In her final year of law school in 2010, and at the same time she was taking her bar exam, she applied for and obtained a full-time position in the Compliance Office of SMC’s Athletic Department. Compared to her experience with professional sports teams, she has found working at SMC more casual and friendly, providing the opportunity for close collaboration with coaches and other administrators, and being able to impact directly the college experience of student-athletes. In addition to her role as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance, Piper is a member of the Graduate Kinesiology faculty, where she actively shares her sports law experience by teaching Supervision and Legal Aspects in the Fall and Leadership and Governance in the Spring. In 2015, Piper earned her MBA from Saint Mary’s and ably incorporates knowledge from that degree into her courses as well.

Sports law and NCAA compliance in particular is constantly evolving. The last year especially has brought some major challenges. As Piper says, “It is important to be proactive when you are a leader in a department.” She continues, “It seems like COVID related rules are being changed weekly and I have to make sure these are communicated with our coaches, administration, and student-athletes while answering questions regarding eligibility. For instance, the NCAA has granted an additional season of eligibility to student-athletes due to COVID so a lot of planning has had to happen behind the scenes. To do this we have really had to come together as a department to ensure that we maintain compliance with NCAA bylaws, Title IX, and our budget.” Better organization and working together are now even more important to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

The pandemic has also led to more fundamental changes. Piper notes that “recruiting has been very difficult since last March due to all the COVID restrictions and extended temporary dead period. As a result, the NCAA has had to modernize its recruiting rules by allowing more electronic communication and video conferencing, and Compliance has had to adapt to this.”