Knight Commission Announces New Membership Appointments of Dr. Wayne Frederick, Jessica Mendoza and Gloria Nevarez

Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibargüen and Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Co-Chairs Arne Duncan, Len Elmore and Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher have announced the appointment of new members to the Commission: Dr. Wayne Frederick, Jessica Mendoza and Gloria Nevarez.

“Understanding a wide range of points of view is essential in our pluralistic society,” said Ibargüen. “The diversity of life and professional experiences among Knight Commission members has been its strength and these talented new members will make this asset even stronger.”

“The achievements of our new members are remarkable,” said Duncan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education. “The collective perspective they offer to the Commission will no doubt prove to be invaluable as we strive to bring about positive change for college athletes.”

“We believe 2021 will be a pivotal year for college sports and it’s critical to have thoughtful leaders like Wayne, Jessica and Gloria on our team,” said Elmore, who also chairs the Knight Commission’s Racial Equity Task Force.

“The real strength of our Commission lies in the unyielding fortitude that our members exhibit as they work to achieve meaningful reform for college athletes,” said Zimpher, Chancellor Emeritus of the State University of New York. “I am happy to say that with the additions of these accomplished individuals, our group just got three times stronger.”

Over the past year, the Commission released principles to guide new rules to allow college athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and proposals to transform NCAA Division I governance and structure.

A complete list of the 22-member Commission can be found here.

Dr. Wayne Frederick

Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick was appointed the 17th president of Howard University in 2014. He previously served as provost and chief academic officer. Most recently, the Howard University Board of Trustees selected Dr. Frederick to serve as the distinguished Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery. Dr. Frederick has advanced Howard University’s commitment to student opportunity, academic innovation, public service and fiscal stability. He has overseen a series of reform efforts, including the expansion of academic offerings, establishing innovative programs to support student success and the modernization of university facilities.

Dr. Frederick received his B.S and M.D. from Howard University and began his academic career as associate director of the cancer center at the University of Connecticut. Upon his return to Howard University, his academic positions included associate dean in the College of Medicine, division chief in the Department of Surgery, director of the Cancer Center and deputy provost for Health Sciences. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business in 2011.

Dr. Frederick is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts and editorials and is a widely recognized expert on disparities in health care and medical education. His medical research focuses on narrowing racial, ethnic and gender disparities in cancer-care outcomes, especially pertaining to gastrointestinal cancers.

Dr. Frederick was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Humana Inc. He is a member of surgical and medical associations, including the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons.

Jessica Mendoza

Jessica Mendoza joined ESPN in 2007 and in 2015 became the first woman to serve as an analyst for nationally televised MLB games. She has since become one of the leading voices in ESPN’s Major League Baseball coverage. Mendoza appears regularly on ESPN MLB studio shows, including Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, Get Up and First Take.

Mendoza is a two-time Olympian and was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Softball team from 2001 to 2010. Her team took home the Gold Medal in Athens (2004) and the Silver Medal in Beijing (2008). She is both a three-time World Champion and World Cup Champion in addition to being a two-time Pan American Gold Medalist. In 2006, she was named the USA Softball Athlete of the Year and was also recognized in 2008 as the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year. In 2019, Mendoza was inducted into the National Sports Hall of Fame.

Mendoza was a four-time first team All-American while playing outfield at Stanford University. She led the team to its first Women’s College World Series appearance and finished her college career with school records that are still held today. She was a three time Stanford Female Athlete of the Year and First Team Academic All-American in 2002. Mendoza graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies in 2002 and Masters in Social Sciences in Education in 2003.

Gloria Nevarez

Gloria Nevarez was selected as the Commissioner of the West Coast Conference in April of 2018. Nevarez, who recently signed a contract extension, is the first Latina appointed as a Division I Commissioner and is one of ten female conference commissioners serving in Division I Athletics. She serves on the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, overseeing Division I men’s basketball policy, and the NCAA Transfer Working Group.

As Commissioner, Nevarez has directed an overhaul of the conference’s branding, expanding the league’s national television contracts and sponsorships. Nevarez modernized the WCC governance structure, emphasizing social justice initiatives, empowering student-athlete voices, and launching into the esports space.

Under Nevarez’ leadership, the WCC became the first Division I conference to adopt the groundbreaking “Russell Rule”. The diversity hiring initiative requires all WCC schools to include a traditionally underrepresented candidate in the final pool for every athletic personnel search.

Nevarez has guided the conference through the COVID-19 pandemic, managing the execution of safe playing seasons and tournaments and working with local and state health agencies and university presidents.

Nevarez is a native of Santa Clara, California, and graduated cum laude as a basketball student-athlete from the University of Massachusetts. Nevarez received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California and is a graduate of the NCAA Fellows Program and the NACWAA Executive Institute, and was an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Master’s program.

Nevarez began her career at San Jose State University, as Director of Compliance, and later served multiple roles at the University of California. She spent a previous stint at the West Coast Conference, directing the Conference’s compliance efforts from 2002 through 2007.

Nevarez served as Associate Athletic Director at the University of Oklahoma and as the Senior Associate Commissioner, Senior Women Administrator at the Pac-12 Conference.

About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

The Knight Commission, founded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 1989, is an independent group that leads transformational change to prioritize college athletes’ education, health, safety and success. Over the years, the NCAA has adopted a number of the Commission’s recommendations, including the rule that requires teams to be on track to graduate at least 50 percent of their players to be eligible for postseason competition. In 2020, the Commission developed principles to guide new NIL rules, which have been influential in shaping the new system, and also proposed major governance changes in its Transforming the NCAA D-I Model report. The Commission also provides financial data about Division I college sports to enhance financial transparency and accountability. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit


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