Women in Sports: Alumna paves path for women working in NBA

A smiling woman in a purple dress poses with her arms crossed.

Matina Kolokotronis, ’89, is the Chief Operating Officer for the Sacramento Kings.

The career of Matina Kolokotronis, ’89, demonstrates that, sometimes, a little spontaneity in life can lead us places we had never imagined. Her position as Chief Operating Officer of the Sacramento Kings is the result of what she describes as an impulsive decision to take a job as special counsel to help draft a player contract for an international basketball player.

Kolokotronis is currently the only woman in the NBA to have held the titles of chief operating officer and president of business operations. Her career in sports law began 25 years ago when she received an unexpected phone call from Geoff Petrie — the general manager of the Sacramento Kings at the time — who offered her a position after learning of her ability to read and write Greek. From there, she worked on international contract matters and eventually transitioned into running the Kings' Foundation.

After 13 years with the team, Kolokotronis was offered the position of President of Business Operations, which she held for 10 years before becoming the Chief Operating Officer (COO). She describes her career path as, “the doors opened, and I just kept going through them.”

As COO, Kolokotronis develops and implements the long-term strategy of the organization, designing business operations and establishing policies that promote the Kings culture and vision.

Kolokotronis earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago. She decided to further her education and get a law degree from McGeorge School of Law after visiting and falling in love with the campus. Kolokotronis was inspired to apply because her husband was located in California.

When deciding whether to go to law school, she followed the advice of her parents who emphasized the importance of education. In particular, her father wanted all four of his daughters to become attorneys because he felt that they would be self-sufficient. Incidentally, her father got his wish, with two of his daughters getting law degrees from McGeorge: Kolokotronis and her sister, Eugenia Romas, ‘96. Kolokotronis credits her law degree for her current job.

Kolokotronis also worked as an adjunct professor at McGeorge for seven years, teaching a class on sports law that was focused mostly on contracts. Teaching was never in her plans. When she was a student, Kolokotronis did not see herself teaching. She states that teaching was one of the hardest yet most rewarding things she’s done, but she would love to do it again sometime.

“I’m happy I was able to give them a little bit of my everyday work experience, and that they could translate it into what life beyond law school is like,” Kolokotronis said.

While she didn’t anticipate ending up in sports law, she said that the combination of logic and the day-to-day of entertainment within sports is what makes her job fun. Kolokotronis utilizes her McGeorge education daily to solve problems and provide solutions even if she is no longer technically practicing law.

As a woman working in the sports field for over two decades, Kolokotronis has observed how the landscape has changed. She said it is easier to be a woman in the field now than it used to be.

“I thought about my first meeting going to the NBA when I walked into that office, it was me and about 89 men and I did think that there was something odd about that and it didn’t feel good,” she said.

She estimated that of the Sacramento Kings employees, almost 40 percent are women, and she guessed that across the NBA as a whole, there were 30 percent of women in leadership positions. She stated that while progress has been made, in general, “we need our offices to look the way that the world works.”

The advice that she offers to students looking to enter into sports law fields is to pursue internships and test their skills in the sports business.

Kolokotronis stated she was very grateful for the McGeorge community, and she said she wishes that she was able to give more to the institution that has given her so much.

“I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for McGeorge and what they gave me; the education, the knowledge has led me to where I am today,” Kolokotronis said.

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