Adam Neuman ’13 YC gives his new job a 10, a “Big Ten,” as the new Chief of Staff, Strategy and Operations at the Big Ten Athletic Conference (B1G). As the youngest occupant of the position in its history, he works with Kevin Warren, the B1G commissioner, to create policy and initiatives for the athletic departments and student athletes of the 14 universities that make up the conference’s roster.
Catching up with Neuman is not an easy feat. The first leg of a multicity trip finds him headed to Rosemont, Illinois, the home of B1G’s headquarters. After that, he is off to Bloomington, Indiana, where the commissioner is doing a first-ever Town Hall. Then it’s a dash to Iowa City, Iowa, for another Town Hall at the University of Iowa, where he will get the opportunity to watch a game with Commissioner Warren, who is the Big Ten’s first African American commissioner.
“The Commissioner is committed to seeing every single team in the Big Ten play,” explains Neuman, who was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. “That’s over 300 teams, roughly 10,000 athletes in total.” It is big business, doing nearly $1 billion in revenue (most of which is kicked back to the schools at the end of the year to establish initiatives that support the student-athletes).
“Kevin is always thinking about what’s best for the student-athletes,” he says. “He’s a trailblazer, a leader committed to treating his community with the utmost respect. His ambition is contagious.” Another word Neuman uses is “mensch,” appreciating his boss’s easy accommodation of his religious observance, whether that involves kashrut [kosher food] or Shabbat.
A political science major, Neuman served as student body president while at YU. “When you’re in a position of leadership, making decisions is about what’s best for the people you represent,” he says, pointing to surveys he conducted and communication tracks established with the students. “We didn’t want to speculate on what students were seeking, so we asked. It helped forge many relationships.”
He credits YU with teaching him how to be open to diverse ideas. “Humility is being open to the ideas of others,” he says.
Following graduation, Neuman stayed on at the University, working with Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph, senior vice president, and President (now President Emeritus) Richard Joel as a Presidential Fellow. In that role, he wrote more than 200 speeches and was eventually promoted to communications manager in the President’s office.
During a YU board of trustees meeting, Neuman connected with board member Mark Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings and a key benefactor of Yeshiva University (the main campus is named in honor of his family’s generosity). Wilf put him in touch with Kevin Warren, then COO of the Minnesota Vikings.
“Mark was very open to the possibility of my working with the Vikings and gave me a shot at an interview. The rest is history,” Neuman says. “There’s no question that YU’s robust network helped me create relationships that led me on my professional journey and, ultimately, to a job that provides an opportunity to help form policies with enormous impact.”
Landing an internship with the Vikings, he spent the summer in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, developing a close relationship with Warren. That relationship lasted during Neuman’s time at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a master’s degree in public administration in 2017, and University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he earned a degree in law in 2018.
When Warren was appointed to one of the highest positions in the sporting world in June 2019, he called Neuman to see if he was up for a starting position. “Working at the Big Ten is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I resigned that day from my law firm job,” recalls Neuman, who was working at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York City. “The people at the firm were very excited about it, and I carry that with pride.”
Now he’s a team player in a job he says he was “born to do.” “You don’t know where life will take you,” he continues. “But if you’re open to new ideas and really listen to other people, you may be surprised.” Said like a true team player.