Charles W. Mentkowski Sports Law Alumna of the Year Award
Jessica A. Kumke, Law ’08
Jessica says she was on the quiet side as a Marquette Law School student, but Marquette's National Sports Law Institute Director Paul Anderson took a personal interest in her success. He entrusted her with a new student internship opportunity with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee athletics compliance office. Now, Jessica works there as an assistant director.
"Professor Anderson saw something in me," Jessica says. "He not only made sure I got my first internship with Northern Illinois Compliance, but after that, he trusted me to do (the new) internship at UWM and then report back on whether I thought it was worthwhile. I know that I wouldn't be where I am today without both of those experiences."
Her Marquette law degree and certificate from the school's National Sports Law Institute, she says, also gave her an advantage in the highly competitive field of college athletics law. Before she started at UWM in October 2013, Jessica spent five years as the director of compliance at the University of Wyoming. At UWM, she oversees NCAA and Horizon League compliance for all 15 sports within Milwaukee Panthers Athletics.
In addition to monitoring coach and staff recruiting activities, certifying student-athlete eligibility, and promoting an understanding of NCAA rules, Jessica serves as chair for the Horizon League Governance Cabinet, which reviews and weighs in on NCAA legislative proposals. "With the changes to the NCAA governance structure in the last few years," she says, "this has become a very interesting area to work in."
Jessica remains connected to Marquette as an internship supervisor for law students and a speaker in sports law classes, talking about her job, where she loves making a difference. Her more reserved nature, she says, "doesn't stop me from doing what I can to help those around me. I don't need to be seen as a leader to feel like I'm leading."
Fun fact: Jessica is a native Nebraskan who would like to have dinner with Tom Osborne, the legendary Cornhuskers coach-turned-politician who is also known for community service.