Women Leaders Series: Advancing Athlete Rights

Published: February 12, 2024

Brand & New

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Malaika Underwood

Malaika Underwood CEO of Sandlot Technology Incorporated; USA Baseball Women’s National Team USA

This episode of Brand & New is the first in the “Women Leaders Series,” hosted in collaboration with The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative. INTA launched The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative to champion and advance women’s leadership in intellectual property. The Initiative also provides the Association with a vehicle for sustained programs to help women in the IP community advance their careers and achieve professional success.

The “Women Leaders Series” celebrates the unique leadership qualities of women, including their collaborative and empathetic approach to success. It brings together women leaders in diverse roles and representing various organization types in the brands and IP ecosystem. These women are at the forefront of industry trends and the conversation around how the landscape for women leaders is being shaped today.

Our guest today is Malaika Underwood. Ms. Underwood is CEO of Sandlot Technology Incorporated. She also retired from the USA Baseball Women’s National Team last year with the record for longest-tenured player on a USA Baseball National Team, man or woman. She earned five Women’s Baseball World Cup medals, as well as two Women’s Baseball World Cup All-Tournament Team selections. In 2015, she was honored by USA Baseball as Sportswoman of the Year. Currently, Ms. Underwood is an Assistant Coach for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team.

Ms. Underwood has over 17 years of experience as a sports business executive. Before joining Sandlot, Ms. Underwood served as interim CEO at OneTeam Partners. OneTeam launched in 2019 as a joint venture between the NFL Players Association, MLB Players Association, and RedBird Capital to maximize the collective value of athletes’ rights through group licensing, marketing, media, and other ventures.

As interim CEO, Underwood managed the company through a major transition following the founding CEO’s departure and guided the company through the final months of the sale of Redbird Capital’s equity. That transaction valued OneTeam at US $1.8 billon.

Ms. Underwood also developed and executed the strategy for OneTeam’s college business, creating the largest group rights program in the world. Prior to assuming the interim CEO role at OneTeam, Ms. Underwood was Senior Vice President of Licensing where she provided oversight for the company’s growing consumer products business.

In 2021, Ms. Underwood was named one of Sports Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. In the same year, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in NCAA v. Alston, paving the way for college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights for the first time. Unlike professional athletes, amateurs cannot be paid for their contributions to a team. While this has not changed, the NCAA has been forced to change its rules regarding the name, image, and likeness rights of student athletes. This has been a game changer for sports. Ms. Underwood is not only an expert on the topic, she is also deeply passionate about it!

Related Resources

Malaika Underwood – Athlete Bio (

Supreme Court Strikes NCAA’s Limits on Education-Related Benefits for Student Athletes (U.S. News, June 2021)

Malaika Underwood: Writing Her Own Story (, February 2021)

Forty Under 40: Malaika Underwood (Sports Business Journal, June 2021)

Three Questions for Malaika Underwood (INTA Bulletin, November 2023)

The Women’s LeadershIP Initiative (

About Brand & New

Brand & New podcasts from the International Trademark Association

Our hosts discuss compelling business and legal topics relating to intellectual property, innovation, technology, and change with an international roster of influential experts and industry visionaries.

Brand & New guests contribute to this podcast in their personal capacity, and the opinions expressed (or experiences shared) are their own. They do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of INTA or our members.

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