Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Thursday, December 29, 2011
 
Panel on The Impact of Sports Collective Bargaining on Labor Relations in Society

While perusing the program for the upcoming American Economic Association annual meeting (Jan. 6-8) in Chicago, I noticed an interesting panel devoted to sports collective bargaining. Details are below:

The Impact of Sports Collective Bargaining on Labor Relations in Society (Workshop)
(J1) (Panel Discussion)

Panel Moderator: Gabriel Gershenfeld, Cleveland Indians, and Michael Wasser (American Rights at Work)
DeMaurice Smith (NFL Players Association) Sports Collective Bargaining: Sports Labor Perspective
Rob Manfred (Major League Baseball) Sports Collective Bargaining: Sports Management Perspective
Arlene Holt-Baker (AFL-CIO) Impact of Sports Collective Bargaining on Labor in America
Martin Mulloy (Ford Motor Company) Impact of Sports Collective Bargaining on Management in America

Saturday, December 24, 2011
 
New Sports Illustrated column: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. sentenced to 90 days in jail

Here's my new SI.com column on Floyd Mayweather pleading guilty to reduced charges for battering his ex-girlfriend.  He'll get 90 days in jail; originally was facing 34 years in prison. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
 
Statutes of limitations, child sexual assault, and asking the wrong question

Child sexual assault has become the hot topic in the sports-and-law overlap, with allegations against several college football and basketball coaches, AAU officials, and most recently, a Hall of Fame sports writer Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. One unifying theme is that many of these cases cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run on most of these cases (for example, Conlin's alleged assaults all occurred in the 1970s). So a frequently asked question--I was asked it in a radio interview last week and Slate's Jessica Grose raises it again--is why we have statutes of limitations for child sexual assault cases.

But I think that is the wrong question to ask.

On one hand, the answer is easy. We have statutes of limitations in sexual abuse cases for the same reasons we have statutes of limitations for every other crime (except murder, more on that below): Evidence and people disappear and memories fade or change or become distorted, thus we worry about the reliability of any result based on such stale evidence. Jessica interviews my former colleague Aya Gruber (now at Colorado), who argues that this is especially true in a case such as child sexual assault (and perhaps all sexual assault), where the key--and sometimes only--evidence is the victim's testimony. We also believe in a right to repose, or "rest easy," that at some point a person should be able to no longer fear prosecution and get on with his life and his affairs.

Murder long has not been subject to statutes of limitations because society has made a value judgment--murder is the most heinous crime, the ultimate criminal wrong, and that heinousness outweighs the procedural concerns for unreliable judgments and the substantive concerns for alleged perpetrator's right to repose. A good argument can be made that child sexual assault is as or more heinous than murder,* thus we should strike the same balance. And that is what many states have done, eliminating limitations (as some states have done) or making them extraordinarily long and/or tolling them until the child reaches majority. For example, Pennsylvania now can prosecute a case until the child victim turns 50, meaning a limitations period of anywhere from 33 to 50 years, depending on the child's age at the time of the assault. An even better argument can be made that the old limitations periods in effect in the '70s, '80s, and '90s were woefully short (Pennsylvania was 5 years for anything involving penetration and 2 years for inappropriate touching) and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the crime and the psychology of how child victims respond.**

But thinking about whether there should be a statute of limitations for child sexual assault, or how long it should be, is the wrong question in considering the prosecution or non-prosecution of the current cases of interest. We are stuck with the reality that there is a statute of limitations for these crimes, that at the time of most of most of these crimes that limitations period was really short, and therefore the statutes have run on these cases and prosecution is barred. In 2003, SCOTUS held in Stogner v. California that the prohibition on ex post facto laws prohibited states from applying newly lenghtened limitations periods to crimes that occurred under an older limitations and that now are time-barred under that former limitations period. The 5-4 majority placed an extended limitations period in the second category, as a law that makes a crime greater than it was at the time of its commission. Most states statutorily avoid any possible ex post facto concerns by only applying these newly extended periods prospectively. Thus, what prevents prosecution of Sandusky, Conlin, et al., is not the statute of limiattions as much as the Constitution's prohibition on ex post facto laws.

    * I distinctly remember a class session in Stephen Presser's American Legal History at Northwestern, in which we debated whether adult rape was more heinous than murder, with a majority of the class believing it was, because the victim lives with the effects of the crime forever. We can multiply that for child victims.

    ** Although what is interesting about Conlin's case is that many of the victims went to their parents and some of the parents confronted Conlin, who allegedly cried when confronted. But no one, not even the adults, ever went to the police.

Friday, December 16, 2011
 
New Sports Illustrated column: What Sam Hurd's arrest means for the NFL

I have a new column for SI.com on Sam Hurd's arrest on drug charges and his alleged list of clients, who reportedly include NFL players.  Hope you can check it out.

Update: on Saturday morning, I was interviewed on CBS The Early Show. CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell asked me about Sam Hurd's drug arrest, the alleged list of list of NFL players he sold to, and what it all means for the NFL.


Thursday, December 15, 2011
 
Introducing the Great Lakes Sports and Entertainment Law Academy

Congrats to Peter Carfagna and Craig Nard, among others, for establishing the Great lakes Sports and Entertainment Law Academy, a summer program in Cleveland for law students interested in sports and entertainment law.  It looks to be a terrific program. Here are the details:

Great Lakes Sports and Entertainment Law Academy

May 14 – June 3, 2012


A joint program of: Center for Law, Technology, and the Arts, Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University

The law schools of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University are pleased to introduce the Great Lakes Sports & Entertainment Law Academy, an exciting new summer program for law school students that will begin in May of 2012. The Academy will be located in Cleveland, Ohio, home to three professional sports franchises and thriving arts and musical institutions. The product of a unique collaboration between the law schools of Cleveland State University and Case Western University, the Academy has partnered with several local and national sports and entertainment franchises, as well as local educational and cultural institutions, to offer students an intense, three-week, interdisciplinary classroom and experiential learning opportunity.

A special feature of the program is the chance for students to secure a limited number of externships at various high-profile sports and entertainment organizations.

Following the three weeks of coursework, up to fifteen students will have the opportunity to participate in highly selective externships. The externships are for three credits and last for nine weeks (approximately 20 hours per week). The anticipated externships, which begin on June 4, 2012, are sponsored by various high-profile sports and entertainment institutions, including:

Cleveland Browns;
SPIRE Institute;
Lake County Captains;
Vuguru Studios;
Horizon League;
Mid-American Conference;
Cleveland State University/Nelligan Sports Marketing Agency;
Greater Cleveland Film Commission

Application deadline: February 15, 2012
Externship application/writing deadline: February 15, 2012

Courses at the 2012 Academy
Courses take place at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 2121 Euclid Avenue, LB 138, Cleveland, Ohio 44115-2214

  • Representing the Professional Athlete
  • Negotiation Strategies in Sports Management
  • Representing the Musical Artist
  • Entertainment Law: Film and Television

Faculty

Peter A. Carfagna, Co-Director of the Academy, is Chairman/CEO of Magis, LLC, a privately owned sports marketing, management and investment company, including family ownership of the Lake County Captains, Cleveland Indians Class A Affiliate. He is a professor at Harvard Law, Cleveland Marshall College of Law, and Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Mark Avsec is partner and Vice-Chair of the Intellectual Property Practice Group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP. Before becoming a lawyer, Professor Avsec earned a living as a studio musician, producer and award-winning songwriter.

David Shall is Head of Business Operations & General Counsel at Vuguru LLC, a pioneer in multi-platform programming and content.

All students who satisfactorily complete six credit hours of coursework will receive a certificate of completion. Up to 15 students will be selected for an externship through a separate application process, a competitive writing submission in response to a Sports Law Problem, available at this web address beginning December 15, 2011.

For further information:
Professor Craig A. Nard, Co-Director, Great Lakes Sports and Entertainment Law Academy
Phone: (216) 368-6348
E-mail: craig.nard@case.edu

Tuesday, December 13, 2011
 
New Sports Illustrated column: What is Jerry Sandusky's Lawyer Doing?

In a new column for SI.com, I raise some questions of Joe Amendola's legal strategy in representing Jerry Sandusky.

 
Show-Me Sports Law


Guest post from Dr. Anastasios Kaburakis, a professor at the John Cook School of Business, Saint Louis University:
After St. Louis’ beloved Cardinals lost Albert Pujols to the L.A. Angels last week, there was quite a discussion on how a small market like St. Louis can compete in intense, financially challenging times, and indeed in a cut-throat industry like sports. St. Louis ranks 18th in metropolitan area size 
in the U.S.

What is most interesting for sports law aficionados, however, is that St. Louis is developing into a hub for sports law. It was during the same fateful week of Dec. 5 that one of the two biggest law firms  in town, Thompson Coburn, announced a major addition, the immediate past President of the Sports Lawyers Association, Bob Wallace, veteran NFL executive and former St. Louis Rams’ general counsel, who will lead a new sports law practice group. This follows the other major St. Louis firm, Bryan Cave, announcing earlier this summer  the commencement of its sports law practice group, led by Ryan Davis. Both firms followed suit along the path of Stinson LLP and Bob Lattinville, who together with Gary Uberstine formed a national partnership, Premier Stinson Sports, specializing in elite coaches’ representation. Of course, when representation is discussed, St. Louis is home to CAA Football, Jim Steiner, Ben Dogra, and Tom Condon, who compete for the top-level football talent with cross-town rival Harold Lewis and the National Sports Agency.

Further, for sports law gurus, one needs to keep in mind that St. Louis-based Harness, Dickey, and Pierce, a top-5 global Intellectual Property firm, has been attending to sports IP issues for years, receiving international attention and fantasy sports fans’ adoration due to the successful CBC v MLBAM case before the Eighth Circuit, led by Super IP litigator Rudy Telscher.

Add to those national players the several pockets of key sport finance consultation in town, as well as a focused sport law research group including international academics and practitioners collaborating with the Saint Louis University John Cook School of Business sports business program, and one observes that the Gateway City may well be the best-kept secret in international sports law.

Here’s hoping that St. Louis’ Law Schools also recognize the tremendous opportunities for young practitioners, as well as the further involvement our fine academic institutions may have through their meaningful contributions to the industry (not to mention the patent prospects for landing external funding through such service and collaborative initiatives with the various key industry players in town). Conceivably, St. Louis may become an international destination for sport law studies, and the promising challenge is there for a law school to be a first entrant in town, joining the 12 or so other law school-housed sport law centers, institutes, clinics, and certificate programs around the U.S. already providing valuable service to law students, faculty, practitioners, and the entire sports industry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011
 
Sports Wagering Update

I recently had a chance to listen in on an iGaming Business-sponsored webinar about developments in New Jersey and more general topics related to the legality of sports wagering in the USA. Joe Brennan of iMEGA was the featured speaker. The recent state-wide vote in New Jersey has garnered a lot of attention. However, a quick perusal of my research file devoted to this issue revealed three other recent developments that deserve mention.

1. Earlier this month, prosecutors in Massachusetts were able to secure the first conviction under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The person convicted was previously affiliated with an offshore sports book. The official press release can be found here.

2. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that authorities have indicted an individual in a probe related to the false reporting of information. The individual is alleged to have bet on behalf of ACME Group Trading, an entity connected to prominent sports bettor Billy Walters. Nevada law prohibits the use of "runners" who place bets on the behalf of others. The 60 Minutes profile of Billy Walters can be found here.

3. Developments in Europe dwarf those in the United States. Given the vast number of cross-border issues inherent in sports gambling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been busy adjudicating a large number of claims. Tassos Kaburakis and I recently collaborated to write a short primer on a handful of important ECJ cases. Our article was recently published in the Journal of Gambling Business and Economics. The abstract is below:

Given its high level of regulation, the gambling industry must be able to react quickly to litigation and resulting change in policy (and enforcement thereof). Using a case study approach, this short paper highlights how the twin issues of policy and litigation have recently impacted the gambling industry in the European Union. Examples focus on recent developments in the EU that outline the relevant contours of the European Court of Justice's jurisprudence, with a special emphasis on the dynamic situation in Greece. These examples shape the ensuing discussion of the future of both the regulation and litigation of the EU's gambling industry.

Monday, December 05, 2011
 
Dan Markel argues for a sport of hockey without "brutal disabling fights"

Provocative piece by Howard's PrawfsBlawg colleague and Florida State law professor Dan Markel (who is originally from one of the best hockey cities around, Toronto): The End of Hockey (Fighting).

 
SEC as solution to ridiculous public stadium financing?

I am so proud to be a Miami-Dade resident (although not a Marlins fan).

 
Yale Law School Panel on The Year of the Lockout: "Lockouts and Leverage: Lessons from the NBA and NFL Lockouts and New Collective Bargaining Agreements"


As the NBA lockout and the 2012 calendar year fade into the night, Yale Law School will be hosting the first panel discussion that takes stock of what has been the Year of The Lockout.

On Monday December 12, the Yale Law and Business Society will host a panel discussion titled "Lockouts and Leverage: Lessons from the NFL and NBA Lockouts and New Collective Bargaining Agreements".  The panel will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. and will be open to the public. The NBA and NFL lockouts, the corresponding litigation and the resulting collective bargaining agreements will all be discussed.

I am honored to be joining Professor George Priest -- one of the nation's leading experts on antitrust law -- on the panel.  Here is the official announcement:


The Yale Law and Business Society

Presents

Lockouts and Leverage: 

Lessons from the NBA and NFL Lockouts and New Collective Bargaining Agreements

* Taking stock of the NBA and NFL lockouts
* Analysis of the legal and business strategies and lessons learned

* Who Won?  Who Lost?
* Impact of new collective bargaining agreements - who gains, who loses - and changes in relationship between NFL and NBA players and their respective leagues
* Lingering Issues

 Moderator
JIMMY GOLEN
Yale Law School graduate (1999).  Reporter for The Associated Press for over 20 years, covering sports in Boston for the world’s largest newsgathering organization since 1995. He has covered five Super Bowls, three Olympics and three World Series, including the Red Sox victories in 2004 and ’07. Previously, he worked for the AP in New York, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, La., and Buffalo, N.Y.

Panelists

MICHAEL McCANN
Professor of Law and Director of Sports Law Institute, Vermont Law School
On-Air Legal Analyst, NBA TV
Legal Analyst and SI.com Writer, Sports Illustrated
GEORGE PRIEST
Professor of Law and Economics and Kauffman Distinguished Research Scholar in Law, Economics, and Entrepreneurship, Yale Law School

For additional information, please contact Jonathan Soleimani (Co-Director of Programming, Yale Law & Business Society) at jonathan.soleimani[at]yale.edu

Sunday, December 04, 2011
 
In Memoriam: Robert "Bob" Berry

Very sad news last week in the sports law world, as former Boston College Law School sports law Professor Bob Berry passed away at 75.  Marquette University Law School sports law Professor Matt Mitten shares the following with our readers:
Sports Law Academic World Loses One of Its Heavy Hitters

Bob Berry, a retired Boston College emeritus professor of law who was an internationally recognized expert in sports law, died recently in Florida.  During his distinguished academic career, he taught sports law courses at several law schools, including Boston College, Ohio State, and Capital.  Bob authored or co-authored many sports law review articles and books, including Sports Law and Regulation: Cases, Materials, and Problems (with Matthew Mitten, Timothy Davis, and Rodney Smith).  He was well known for his extensive knowledge of sports law along with his kindness and his sense of humor.  Bob was a wonderful friend, mentor, and co-author, whom I was privileged to know.  All of us, especially his wife Carole and other members of his family, have suffered a great loss.

Bob is fondly remembered by his friends and fellow sports law professors:

His close friend Bill Gould, Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law at Stanford and former Chair of the National Labor Relations Board: “I always thought of Bob as the dean of all academic sports lawyers. He developed the first Sports Law course at BC Law in 1972.  The world has lost a good, genuine-so genuine-smart guy who was very wise and compassionate. I never had a better or more loyal friend.”

Gary Roberts, Dean & Gerald L. Bepko Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis: “Bob was a really good guy who came to be a very good friend.  He truly was one of the founders, if not the founder, of our ‘sports law academic’ club.” 

Roger Abrams, Richardson Professor of Law, Northeastern University: “Bob certainly was in the Sports Law Hall of Fame and a really nice colleague to all of us.”

Barbara Osborne, Associate Professor, Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina: “My heart aches. As one of Bob's former students I know first-hand what an impact he had.”

Bob’s family has requested that any donations in his memory be made to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, 75 Varick Street, 2nd floor, New York, New York 10013.

Matt Mitten
Professor of Law and Director, National Sports Law Institute and
LL.M. in Sports Law Program for Foreign Lawyers
Marquette University Law School

Thursday, December 01, 2011
 
Transitioning to the NBA: Advocating on Behalf of Student-Athletes for NBA & NCAA Rule Changes

Back in April I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post that argued against the shorting, by the NCAA, of the evaluation period for men's basketball players. My friends at Harvard Law School's Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law asked me to turn that short piece into a law review article, which I have now done.

While still being fine-tuned for January publication, I have been given permission to share this document now given the debate on the draft eligibility rules between the NBA and NBPA. [I know, they are technically a trade association today.] You can access the document on the SSRN website here.

The abstract reads as follows:

The manner in which college athletes enter the professional market of basketball has significantly deteriorated during the past several decades. The transition from college to the NBA has become more fraught with challenges and misinformation than ever before, a fact likely to lead to a wide range of mistakes by countless student-athletes trying to evaluate whether and when to enter professional basketball.

Highlighting a particular area where student-athletes’ interests are marginalized, this Article calls attention to the challenges that student-athletes in the sport of men’s college basketball face when trying to make a fully informed decision as they evaluate whether or not to enter the NBA draft and forgo remaining college eligibility. Unfortunately this difficult decision period is not unique to men’s basketball, but highlights a broader trend showing that colleges, conferences and the NCAA have done shockingly little to provide guidance and counsel to student-athletes across the country who are navigating the transition from college to the professional leagues.

This Article will address both how we developed the current legal rules governing this environment by reviewing the history of the NBA draft and the NCAA’s role in overseeing college athletes and its definition of amateurism. With this recent trend in mind, this Article will then turn its attention to a recent NCAA rule change that unambiguously illustrates the fact that the best interests of the student-athlete are marginalized, if not ignored, in the process of making the leap from college to the NBA. Finally, to foster dialogue, solutions will be proposed on how to address the hardships college student-athletes face during this transition period.

Among the most meaningful recommendations are:

1. The NBA should adopt draft eligibility rules that declare high school graduates are automatically draft eligible and need not petition or declare their intention for the draft. If a player decides to attend college, NBA rules should require that the player not be draft eligible for two years—after a player’s sophomore year of college.
2. NCAA and NBA rules should permit and encourage potential players to hire an “advisor” to assist during this challenging period.
3. The NCAA and NBA should expand and shift the number of days during which student-athletes may explore their potential as an NBA player while maintaining their college eligibility.
4. The creation of a true “NBA Combine” – similar to the NFL Combine – within the time frame the NCAA permits tryouts that enable all underclassmen to compete and perform in front of NBA personnel.
5. Colleges and universities across the country should invest in Professional Sports Counseling Panels (“PSCPs”) so that student-athletes can get unbiased guidance during this critical period of their lives.
6. The NBA and the NCAA could jointly revise the rules relative to the NBA draft, whereby any student-athlete who declares himself eligible has the ability, if not selected in the first round of the NBA draft and thus guaranteeing himself a contract under the latest CBA, to return to college.
7. Encourage student-athletes to graduate by offering financial incentives at the NBA level for those with additional years in college.