Jonathan Alger To Join Knight Commission

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 Jonathan Alger, president, James Madison University as a member of the Knight Commission.

Alger is in his tenth year as president at James Madison. He is a nationally recognized leader and scholar in higher education law and has worked actively on legal and policy issues related to college athletics for many years.

“Knight Foundation has been proud to support the Knight Commission from its inception through the present,” said Ibargüen. “Its work has never been more important and we are delighted Jonathan Alger is willing to contribute his expertise”.

“It’s hard to imagine anyone being a better fit to help our group address pressing issues in college sports at this pivotal moment than Jonathan Alger,” said Zimpher, Chancellor Emeritus of the State University of New York. “Not only has Jon been a well-respected leader at James Madison for nearly a decade, but his legal expertise on the college sports landscape will prove to be invaluable to our Commission.”

Earlier this month, the Commission released a new report in its Transforming the D-I Model series titled Connecting Athletics Revenues with the Educational Model of College Sports (C.A.R.E. Model). The proposed C.A.R.E. Model would require the NCAA, the College Football Playoff (CFP), and Division I conferences to more closely connect the distribution criteria and spending of billions in shared athletics revenues with the broad educational mission of NCAA Division I college athletics programs.

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

Jonathan Alger

 Jonathan Alger has served as the president of James Madison University since July 2012. President Alger is a nationally recognized leader and scholar in higher education law and has served on the boards of national organizations such as the American Council on Education, Association of American Colleges & Universities, and Campus Compact. He has worked actively on legal and policy issues related to college athletics for many years.  Since 2018, he has served on the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.  From 2014-16, he served on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors (including on working groups related to preparation for life after sport, and legal issues) and on the Presidential Advisory Group. As a member of the board of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), he is the current Governance working group co-chair, and has previously served as board chair (2016-18) and as chair of its most recent commissioner search. He has given presentations on the presidential perspective on college athletics at several NCAA events as well as to the Sports Lawyers Association.

As a lawyer, President Alger has worked extensively on legal issues impacting college sports. As Assistant General Counsel at the University of Michigan and as General Counsel at Rutgers University, he provided legal support and guidance for the athletic departments at those institutions. He is a nationally recognized expert on diversity and inclusion in higher education, having previously helped develop national policy on issues under Title IX and Title VI at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Since 2016, he has served as a presidential mentor for five mentees through the NCAA Pathways Program, which focuses on career advancement for participants from senior-level positions at NCAA member schools. President Alger began his legal career in the Labor and Employment Section of the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where he worked with clients such as Major League Baseball. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School.

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 2019, the Commission launched a far-reaching examination of the D-I model leading to major recommendations in its Transforming the NCAA D-I Model series, which includes principles to guide new NIL rules and proposals to restructure D-I and alter its revenue distributions. 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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