Elon Law Review symposium examines media, regulatory and labor issues in college sports

The Nov. 7 forum featured insights from law scholars and collegiate athletics leaders. Practicing attorneys and other guests joined law students and faculty for a day of in-depth analysis and discussion.

<p>&copy; Tdmartin | Dreamstime.com – College Football Game Photo</p>

Emily Seawell L’15, symposium editor of the Elon Law Review, described the symposium’s purpose.

“Our vision for this year’s symposium was to provide an interdisciplinary discussion of current issues facing collegiate athletics, from a legal, sports management and student-athlete perspective,” said Seawell. “The industry is facing imminent change on multiple fronts, from technological advances to the structure of the NCAA to athlete compensation. By bringing all sides to the discussion, our hope was that the symposium presenters and attendees would be able to key in on the crux of the current issues facing college sports, and identify potential ways forward that reach beyond theory and into practice.”

<p>Anne Marie Lofaso, associate dean for faculty research and development, and professor of law at West Virginia University College of Law, presents at the Elon Law Review&rsquo;s fall 2014 symposium, with fellow panelists Cesar Rosado Marzan, professor of law, IIT-Chicago-Kent School of Law, center, and Paul Haagen, professor of law, co-director, Center for Sports Law and Policy, Duke University School of Law.</p>
Elon Law Review symposium editor Daniel Watts L’15 offered the following analysis of themes and insights presented at the forum.

“While the panelists discussed current developments in the NCAA via media law, NCAA structural changes and labor law, they really spoke to society’s interest in higher education, and society’s passion for sports,” Watts said. “The current wave of change in the NCAA is society’s projection of fairness, or perhaps the aspirational super ego of fairness. Panelists, sports fans, the NCAA, colleges and universities are beginning to question the status quo of college athletics. Some may take a more cynical stance and cite profit maximization as the common denominator, which is no doubt a real factor, while others may take a more altruistic approach, and credit these entities for giving college athletes their due— in terms of better medical care and additional funding for the actual cost of attendance rather than the shortcomings of tuition alone.

<p>Jo Potuto, professor of law and faculty athletics representative at the University of Nebraska presents at Elon Law on legal and structural changes in the NCAA, with fellow panelists Matthew Burgemeister, assistant commissioner for compliance &amp; governance, Atlantic Coast Conference, left, and Dennis Felder, NCAA compliance coordinator and associate professor, sports science and human performance, Winston-Salem State University.</p>
“It is important to note that this conversation is occurring within the context of college sports (1) because college athletes are an identifiable class with very measurable workloads, and (2) because society has a great fanaticism with college sports,” Watts continued. “The current push to treat athletes better is indicative of a consciousness to treat all employees better, and to apportion credit where it is due, rewarding those who generate profits and add value. But most of all, this national conversation highlights the disparities in the cost of attending college, noting the very real cost of pursuing an undergraduate degree. In a very real sense, that may call for a discernible amount of money to pay for the actual cost of living, and in an abstract sense that may mean institutions need to invest in their people (be they student athlete, teaching assistant, employee, faculty member or fan) in a way that fully recognizes what that person has given the institution.”

The forum featured presentations by the following scholars and collegiate athletics leaders:

  • Thomas Baker III, associate professor of sport management and policy, Univ. of Georgia; J.D., Loyola Univ. New Orleans School of Law; Ph.D. in Sport Management, Univ. of Florida
  • Matthew Burgemeister, asst. commissioner for compliance & governance, Atlantic Coast Conference; M.Ed., Kinesiology-Sports Management, Univ. of Texas at Austin
  • Dennis Felder, NCAA compliance coordinator and associate professor, sports science and human performance, Winston-Salem State Univ.; M.S., Ph.D., Kansas State Univ.
  • Paul Haagen, professor of law, co-director, Center for Sports Law and Policy, Duke Univ.; J.D., Yale Univ.; M.A., Univ. of Oxford; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton Univ.
  • David Jackson, associate athletics director for broadcast operations, Appalachian State Univ., B.S. Communications, Appalachian State Univ.; two-time North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year; member, National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Board of Directors
  • Anne Marie Lofaso, associate dean for faculty research and development, professor of law, West Virginia Univ.; J.D., Univ. of Pennsylvania; D.Phil., Law, Univ. of Oxford
  • Cesar Rosado Marzan, professor of law, IIT-Chicago-Kent School of Law; M.A. and Ph.D., Princeton University; J.D., University of Pennsylvania; research scholar, Center for Labor and Employment Law, New York University School of Law
  • Jo Potuto, faculty athletics representative and professor of law, Univ. of Nebraska; M.A., Seton Hall Univ.; J.D., Rutgers Univ; member, NCAA-wide Student-Athlete Affairs Group Advisory Committee; former chair, NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
  • Ben Tario, assistant commissioner for football, multimedia & legal affairs, Atlantic Coast Conference; J.D., Nova Southeastern Univ.; M.B.A., Elon Univ.

Brittany Teague L’15, editor in chief of the Elon Law Review, expressed appreciation to participants, attendees and forum planners for their contributions to the symposium.

“We would like to thank our panelists and moderators for sharing their insight and expertise and the attendees for providing a robust discussion,” Teague said. “Special thanks to our symposium editors, Emily Seawell and Daniel Watts, who planned the event, as well as faculty and law review members, without whose help the event would not have been possible.”

The law review editorial board plans to follow up on the symposium with an issue of the Elon Law Review focused on issues in college sports. Several panelists from the symposium will contribute articles, as well as other committed authors. The law review welcomes additional contributions to this issue from either a legal or sports management perspective, or both, by contacting the Articles Editor at lawreview@elon.edu to discuss submission of an electronic or print document.

The symposium was offered free of charge and lawyers were eligible for CLE credit for attending.

Information about the Elon Law Review, including access to prior issues, is available here.