Nevius, who served as outside counsel for Overtime the past two years, is one of the rare ex-NCAA enforcement officials to publicly challenge the association’s rules restricting athlete pay. This career about-face began in the mid-2010s with his behind-the-scenes role in assembling the landmark antitrust class-action lawsuit, Alston v. NCAA, which yielded a unanimous Supreme Court ruling for college athletes last June.
Nevius’s new position with Overtime, a digital sports media company, bookends a decade in which he has operated as one of the most active, if at once unlikely, athlete advocates. In addition to having advised around 100 players on various NCAA eligibility matters, Nevius testified before multiple state legislatures in support of NIL laws and delivered a 2021 TEDx talk titled, “The exploitation of US college athletes.”
Last March, Overtime launched Overtime Elite, a 20-and-under pro basketball league set to directly compete with NCAA schools for the country’s top prep hardwood players. Armed with six-figure salaries, OTE has increasingly found success in its early pursuit of talent: this spring, the league landed a commitment from Naasir Cunningham, a shooting guard from New Jersey and the consensus-No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2024.
Cunningham joined OTE as part of the league’s new scholarship option, which Nevius helped develop, that allows incoming players to relinquish a salary in order to maintain their NCAA eligibility.
“It’s been awesome working with Overtime for the last two years as it created a revolutionary new basketball league,” Nevius said in a statement. “It was a natural fit for me to join full-time as we continue to create new and exciting opportunities for athletes and change what’s possible in the sports industry.”
Zack Weiner, Overtime’s co-founder and president, said Nevius’ hire was important for the company in “maintaining the highest standards of compliance for all the athletes we work with.”
A former baseball player and law school graduate at Dayton, Nevius spent five years working on the NCAA’s enforcement staff, culminating with his part as lead field investigator in the 2012 Ohio State “tattoo gate” infractions case, which led to the suspension of five Buckeyes players and eventually cost head coach Jim Tressel his job. That experience, Nevius would later say, became the watershed for a second career trying to redress the well-intentioned damage he believes he wrought with his first.
After leaving the NCAA in 2012, Nevius earned a master of laws degree at Columbia, during which time he connected with famed antitrust litigator, Jeffrey Kessler; Nevius is credited with having put the cause of college athletes on Kessler’s radar. In 2013, Nevius joined Kessler at Winston & Strawn, where Nevius built out and co-chaired the firm’s college sports practice.
In 2019, Nevius launched the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative, a non-profit organization, seeded with money by the Urban Justice Center, which lobbied for athlete compensation rights and provided free legal counsel to athletes ensnared in the NCAA’s bylaws.
Last March, Nevius was among a handful of former NCAA officials who wrote an amici curiae brief in support of the athletes in Alston, which condemned amateurism as “little more than a tool that the NCAA and its members use to maintain their dominance in the increasingly popular market for college sports.”
OTE, which has been praised as a pro-player catalyst for change, is not without its critics. Earlier this year, Ricky Volante, the co-founder of a competitor basketball outfit, The Professional Collegiate League, criticized Overtime for taking advantage of the NCAA’s long-standing NIL ban by producing numerous viral highlight packages of high school athletes who could not sell their publicity rights without giving up their eligibility.