SAEM Alumnus Travis Johnston '15 Lands Role with the NCAA Alumni Profile
Meet Travis Johnston '15
- Job Title & Employer
- Assistant Director of Academic and Membership Affairs, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
- Sports, Arts & Entertainment Management
- College Activities
- Point Park University Rugby Football Club
- Beaver, Pa.; Beaver Area High School
- Now Living In
- Indianapolis, Ind.
- Hobbies & Interests
- Working out, golf, playing with/entertaining my pitbull, Lucille Marie Danger Danger, enjoying the company of family and friends
"If you want to be immersed in everything that Pittsburgh has to offer, Point Park University is the place for you. The SAEM program is an excellent fit for students who wish to learn by doing. You'll learn how to solve real industry problems, help develop events and initiatives that are implemented by businesses within the city, and you'll be prepared for your first full-time role upon graduation."
Describe your new role at the NCAA.
I am charged with providing legislative support and guidance to Division I membership institutions. I help Division I schools navigate the robust rules and regulations of the NCAA to ensure compliance in a variety of bylaw areas. I manage interpretation requests of NCAA bylaws to provide clarity within the membership. I process waiver requests based on unique and extenuating circumstances to grant relief from the normal application of NCAA legislation. I work with compliance administrators on campuses to help their programs operate within NCAA rules. I also help draft proposed legislation, provide education and support other NCAA governance structures.
What do you hope to contribute to the organization?
I held a previous role at the NCAA in 2017-18 as a post-graduate Intern for Academic and Membership Affairs and have spent the past four years in the membership departments at two Division I institutions, Illinois State University and the University of Michigan. In my return to the NCAA, I hope to utilize that campus experience and expertise to constructively contribute to team discussions and analyses of key issues that will lead to favorable outcomes for student-athletes and membership institutions.
How did Point Park University's SAEM program prepare you for career success?
The access to three major sports industries in Pittsburgh provides students unique opportunities to explore the field and gain real-world, hands-on experience. My career journey into NCAA compliance stemmed from a guest lecture in one of my classes. The associate athletic director for compliance at Duquesne University spoke to us about his role and how he was able to interact daily with administration, coaching staffs and student-athletes. His enthusiasm for the job left a significant impression on me and piqued my interest enough to seek out an internship opportunity, which served as a catalyst for my career.
That is just one small example of how the SAEM program at Point Park offers exposure to the sports, arts and entertainment industries within the city. In the SAEM program, experiential learning opportunities are abundant, and the faculty place an emphasis on connecting you with industry professionals. The curriculum is built on hands-on experiences that serve as the foundation for your career goals and aspirations.
What are your favorite Point Park memories?
My involvement with the University's rugby football club is still one of my proudest achievements to date, and without question, the source of my fondest memories during my time at Point Park. To watch the program grow from a rag-tag bunch of kids running around at the Point into a well-oiled organization is gratifying. I will never forget traveling down to West Virginia University on an unseasonably-warm February morning to shock the Mountaineers in true underdog fashion.
Were there any specific faculty members who had a significant influence on you?
The SAEM faculty are the first people you should look to for guidance in your area of interest. Dean Stephen Tanzilli and professors Teresa Gregory, Ed Traversari, Paige Beal, and Robert Derda come to class with decades of industry experience, and they were a fantastic group from which to learn. While there is a faculty member for each SAEM concentration, it's amazing what you can take away from someone else's experience in an adjacent field.
What career advice do you have for current students?
Find mentors. Whatever industry you're pursuing, seek out hard-working individuals whose goals and ambitions are similar to your own. Take advantage of their knowledge and experiences while forging your own path. Early on, this may mean absorbing all information like a sponge, but always remember to be intentional with your interactions. Understand, too, that you can learn just as much from someone on how not to act or approach a situation as you can from someone who aligns with your morals and values.
Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?
If you want to be immersed in everything that Pittsburgh has to offer, Point Park University is the place for you. The SAEM program is an excellent fit for students who wish to learn by doing. You'll learn how to solve real industry problems, help develop events and initiatives that are implemented by businesses within the city, and you'll be prepared for your first full-time role upon graduation.