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York College Grad Helps Secure Women's Representation in Sports

March 31, 2020
Marisa with NCAA sign
Marisa Brisbane

Marisa Brisbane ’18 remembers when “playing like a girl” was an insult. While the perception of women in sports continues to change on fields and courts, she’s doing her part to make sure offices that run teams and athletic programs continue to evolve, as well.

For many college athletic departments, the highest-ranked female typically has the title of Senior Women’s Administrator, says Marisa, a York College of Pennsylvania Sport Management graduate. “This position is a role model for student-athletes and women working in athletics. Women can always count on this person, at the upper level, to be there for them.”

Wanting to major in business and play sports, Marisa sat in on a Sport Management class during a York College recruiting visit and found her passion. But, she had trepidations about her gender. “I feared being a woman I would be held to a different standard and would have to work harder than a man,” she recalls.

Learning to be a Leader

Those fears were never realized, Marisa believes, due to the strong female leadership she encountered both at York College and now at Temple, where she is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Sport Business.

“Dr. Molly Sauder was a mentor,” Marisa says. “She helped me get ready for interviews, taught me how to dress professionally, always have a portfolio ready, and work on my professional development.” Marisa also credits Dr. Michael Mudrick for his Sports PR/Media Relations class, and Dr. Susan Klinedinst’s Sports Law class for getting her to Temple and treating women as equals in the sports world.

She played soccer and ran track at York College and found leadership roles available there, too. “I was a two-year captain on the soccer team. My teammates and Coach Vicki Sterner helped me learn to become a leader. At the Division III level, there aren’t as many resources as at Divisions I and II, so I had to learn to deal with this.”

Marisa also had the chance to work with Director of Athletic Communications, Scott Guise on gamedays, keeping stats, doing video work, and writing game notes, which also played a role in getting her to graduate school.

Her classes and extracurricular work at York College led to grad school at Temple, where Marisa works as a Graduate Assistant Sports Information Director in the Communications Department and interns in the Compliance Office.

“It’s a 50-50 split at Temple,” she says of the gender breakdown in the Athletic Office. “Definitely the higher positions are tougher for women to get, but the Senior Women’s Administrator is changing that. This position lets student-athletes see women and often minorities as mentors.”


Marisa is using her work at York College and Temple to move even higher. Starting in June, she’ll spend a year in the leadership development postgraduate internship program at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, in college athletics’ governing body’s Eligibility Center.

“This area deals with admissions. Prospective student-athletes must register with the Eligibility Center, upload transcripts and so on, to show they meet certain standards to play college athletics,” Marisa says. High school students must complete certain core classes and have a minimum GPA to show they are ready for the workload of college courses and athletics.

“I have to learn the NCAA’s by-laws. I’ll work with college compliance officers. I’ll also deal with international students from countries that may have different high school standards,” she says.

Marisa believes her course and extracurricular work, along with support from professors, coaches, and staff at York College, helped her land this prestigious and competitive internship.

Career Preparation

“My career goal is to work in compliance,” Marisa says. At the NCAA, she’ll rotate through five sections within the Eligibility Center, handling different compliance areas.

“My experience at York College gave me a good baseline for this career,” she says. “I want to help students who might not otherwise get to college have the chance for an education.”

Marisa wants to make sure that chance is equally available for women and men. “I had female coaches and professors as mentors at York College, who taught me to be professional, not as a woman, but as a person,” she says. “Drs. Sauder and Klinedinst showed women belong as much as men.”