Alumni Profile: Warren Zola
MBA, Boston College, 1996
JD, Tulane University Law School, 1992
BA, Hobart and William Smith College, 1989
Book: Sports for Dorks: College Football (2011)
Wrote a chapter for this book, edited by Mike Leach, which aims to address the information needs of college football fans who seek a deeper understanding
about the game and its intricacies. The chapter contributed is titled “Understanding the College-to-NFL Transition: The (Cautionary) Tale of Mike Williams.”
Transitioning to the NBA: Advocating on Behalf of Student-Athletes for NCAA Rule Changes,
Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, Volume 3, Number 1 (2012).
While a student at Tulane University Law School, Warren K. Zola founded the Sports Law Society before graduating in 1992. He is now the executive director of the Boston College Chief
Executives Club at the Carroll School of Management. Previously, he served as the Assistant Dean for graduate programs in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College for
11 years. Zola began his career in Boston College’s Department of Athletics. He was also vice president and chief financial officer of Maguire Associates, where he first
served as senior consultant. Zola became director of sales and then vice president for marketing and sales and chief financial officer of Interactive Media Solutions.
Q & A:
What is your job position, and what responsibilities does that entail?
As Executive Director, I oversee Boston College’s Chief Executives Club which is among the top ranked CEO speaking forums in the world. Under
the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, the Chief Executives Club brings CEOs drawn from the top echelons of their fields—thought leaders who welcome the
opportunity to address an audience of their peers. My job is to recruit CEOs from around the world to come speak here in Boston, while maintaining ties and strong
relationships to the business leaders of our area.
The other part of my job is my work in the area of sports—teaching both Business of Sports and Sports Law at the business school, as well as serving as the Chair of
Boston College’s Professional Sports Counseling Panel (PSCP). In my role for the PSCP I work with those student-athletes at Boston College who have a chance to enter
the professional leagues; helping them navigate that process. With over 20 Boston College former students in the NFL, another 20 in the NHL, and alumni in the NBA, MLB,
MLS, women’s and men’s European basketball leagues, and various track and field athletes, the experiences have been quite varied.
How would you describe a typical work day?
Most of my daily work revolves around speaking with business leaders—both locally and nationally—as I ensure the organization maintains its status as a world renowned speaking forum. It’s a symbiotic relationship; if we can attract visionary CEOs leading major firms to speak, the audience will be full of Boston’s business leaders. If the Boston business community gathers in a single room, we can recruit global CEOs to share their thoughts on leadership and business.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
To be honest, there are no bad parts of my job. The best part of my non-sports job is easy—the ability to meet and learn from some of the most interesting, successful men and women in the business world. In the realm of sports, working with student-athletes from the time they hit campus and watching them enter and then succeed in professional sports, while maintaining a tie to BC is tremendously satisfying.
What made you want to work in sports law?
As a fan, I always was fascinated by the business and law of the industry. What decisions and laws shaped athletics, and primarily pro sports leagues, into what we all enjoyed? This fascination led me to want to learn more about the industry, and then get involved if I could. I’m still a fan, still fascinated by business decisions that impact our understanding and enjoyment of sports. And I’m still learning.
What inspired you to start the Tulane Sports Law Society, and how have you seen it grow?
It was obvious to me that there was an opportunity to leverage the reputation of Tulane in the field of sports law because of Dean Gary Roberts—a renowned expert in the field. By co-founding the Sports Law Society, and becoming engaged, we were able to raise the public’s perception of Tulane Law as one of, if not the best, schools in this field. And as the Tulane Sports Law Society would establish itself, the brand would resonate with future employers, prospective students, and hopefully attract more faculty to New Orleans which it obviously did in Professor Feldman.
How did Tulane help prepare you for your career?
I loved law school in general and Tulane in particular. While I never wanted to be a traditional “lawyer” the opportunity
to learn how to effectively reason, communicate, and use the law have all greatly enhanced my professional life. And, by staying involved in the Tulane Sports Law
Society has also played a role in my ongoing networking in this field.
What do you think is the biggest issue in sports law/business today?
In broad terms, it continues to be the battle between the workers and employers. You see it at the college level where the NCAA and students athletes are
debating rights. You see it at the pro level with CBA negotiations and the power of the Commissioner. The battle between workers and employers over how to share growing
revenue has been, and will continue to be, at the heart of virtually all major sports law and business issues of consequence.