Elon Law hosts sports management forum

On August 17, the eve of the Wyndham Championship, Elon University School of Law hosted a sports management forum that explored different aspects of professional sports, especially professional golf.

Participants in the August 17 sports management forum at Elon Law, from left, Dr. Morris Pickens, Mac Barnhardt, John Maginnes, and David Maraghy

David Maraghy moderated the forum. Maraghy is distinguished practitioner in residence at Elon Law and Chief Executive Officer of Sports Management International, LC, a professional sports management and marketing firm specializing in golf.

Panel members included John Maginnes, Dr. Morris Pickens, and Mac Barnhardt. Maginnes is a former PGA Tour player and is currently an analyst on The Golf Channel. He is also the lead analyst on the PGA Tour Network of Sirius Satellite Radio and host of “Maginnes on Tap.” Dr. Pickens is a noted sports psychologist and has worked with many PGA Tour Major winners including Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Nick Watney, current leader in the Fed Ex Cup standings. Barnhardt is the CEO of Crown Sports Management. His company represents many PGA Tour stars, such as Ryder Cup captain Davis Love, US Open champion Lucas Glover and British Open champion Stewart Cink.

During the forum, panel members discussed their experiences in the realm of professional golf and the different careers that one can have in the area of professional sports. When talking about various careers in the field of professional sports, Maginnes quoted a movie and said, “the law is the ultimate backstage pass.”

By being a lawyer or a member of the media, one is able to get a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes aspects of the world of sports that is normally off limits to the general public, Maginnes said.

The panel also discussed the importance of ethics in professional sports. The panel talked about how important it is to be honest with your clients, even if it is something they will not want to hear.

“You have times when you have to tell your client the bad news,“ Maraghy said.

Barnhardt also addressed the role that lawyers have in professional sports. He said that the most important thing he has learned from lawyers is to “ask questions, and ask the right questions.“

Barnhardt went on to say that “the law part of the business is paying attention, is asking questions. Looking for what can go wrong.”

“I thought it was outstanding that the forum consisted of the top members of their respective fields,” said third-year student Stuart Bromfield. “They were very forthcoming with their opinions on the panel, and also very approachable in a less formal setting. It was reassuring to know that what we learn at Elon is applicable to so many different areas and in so many different ways.”

“The Sports Management Forum was a unique opportunity to gain insights about careers at the intersection of law and professional sports,” said Austin Morris, also of the Class of 2012. “I appreciated the opportunity to learn about sports law careers firsthand from successful professionals at the top of their game.”

Professor Maraghy served as the General Chairman of the PGA Tour Tournament, the1986 Greater Greensboro Open (now the Wyndham Champiohsip), and has managed the affairs of several PGA Tour professionals. Maraghy also served as Executive Director of the VCU SportsCenter at Virginia Commonwealth University, a graduate program offering a Master’s Degree in Sport Leadership, until 2002.

Click here for Professor Maraghy’s full biography.


By Ashley Smith, L’12