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WVU Law Paige Diggs externship

Paige Diggs finds a Mountaineer mentor

During an externship with WVU Athletics, 3L Paige Diggs discovered a mentor in Keli Cunningham, deputy athletic director.

Paige Diggs has always been passionate about sports.

Before she began in the JD/Online MBA program at WVU Law, she was a standout on the Fresno State women’s basketball team. Last summer, the 3L from Amarillo, Texas, combined her love of sports and the law into an externship that might lead to the career of her dreams.

For Diggs, this ultimate externship experience started with many emails.

As a 2L, she contacted a lot of people in the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, starting with 2002 WVU Law graduate Jordan Blizzard, until someone called her in for an interview. Blizzard is the director of compliance for WVU Athletics.

“Sometimes you just need to go out there and take things by the reins and say ‘this is really what I want to do, so I’m going to find a way to make that happen’,” Diggs explains.

That’s how Diggs got an externship in the compliance office working for WVU Deputy Athletic Director Keli Cunningham.

Diggs says she has found a mentor in Cunningham, an accomplished woman in the male-dominated field of athletic administration. Cunningham has worked in WVU Athletics since 2010, and served as interim director of athletics for three months in 2014-15.

“Having the ability to learn from a woman that’s in that position and being able to see how she has navigated her journey through athletics is valuable to me,” said Diggs. “Having that mentorship and being able to have that connection with her, I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”

As part of her work with Cunningham, Diggs represented WVU at the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar in Orlando, Florida, in May 2016, where she was able to network with other professionals in collegiate athletics.

“The moment I mentioned Cunningham’s name to people, they said ‘let’s see if we can all get together and make something happen for you’,” she recalled. “It’s a testament to her character, and just being connected with her has helped me get some great networking opportunities. The conference was one of the best learning experiences and it solidified that this is what I want to do going forward.”

After a summer in the back office of the Mountaineers, Diggs is continuing her externship during her final year of law school. She is handling a little bit of everything, including updating contracts and working on regulatory and compliance issues.

Diggs wants to continue working in athletic compliance after graduation and eventually become an athletic director. At WVU Law, she has worked with her advisor, Associate Dean Jena Martin, to tailor her class schedule to fit her interests and prepare for the career she wants.

“WVU Law helps people with any area they want to go into,” she said. “If you just talk to an advisor here, they’ll point you in the direction to get you to where you want to go.”

Diggs will continue working with WVU Athletics throughout her final year of law school. Then, she plans to hit the ground running, using the connections she has made through Cunningham with her job search.

Her work with WVU Athletics has given Diggs a newfound respect for the coaches she had as a student athlete who worked with compliance and regulation to ensure that she and her teammates could play their sport without worry.

“It feels like I’m giving back to what was given to me,” Diggs said. “Now, even in a small way, I get to do that for somebody else.”

In addition to her legal work with WVU Athletics, Diggs works at WVU sports events and has gained a different perspective from what she had as a student athlete.

“My work coincides with what I experienced when I played basketball, but now I’m on the other end of it rather than on the court playing,” said Diggs. “To be able to connect with these families that are so excited to see their kids playing, it takes you back and you have that connection with where you came from. It’s all coming full circle.”

  • Written by Chelsi Baker, WVU Law Communications Specialist.
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