Event Review: University of Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference

One of the missions of this blog is to be a resource for those who aspire to find a career in the sports law industry. As part of that mission, it is important to be well-informed of networking events, events where you can gain more knowledge in the field that you aspire to be in, or competitive experiences that will help you learn more about your craft.

With that said, below is a great event review of the University of Oregon Law School’s Sports & Entertainment Conference written by Garrett Robinson (contributing writer to TASL) who is a 2L at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California. He had the opportunity to attend the conference a couple weeks ago in Eugene, Oregon, and he had some great things to say about his experience. Check out his review of the event below:

 

“I would much rather hire someone who I know and like rather than someone who has the greatest GPA ever, who I don’t know”.

These are the words that one of my mentors told me as I started my first year of law school. The very essence of this quote is the idea that networking is pivotal in beginning a career in law. Therefore, the various conferences involving your area of interest are important to attend.

I just recently attended the first annual Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I had heard about this 2-day conference from a friend of mine whom I met at the University of Oregon Summer Sports Law Institute last summer. The Oregon Sports & Entertainment Conference covered a plethora of topics including music & entertainment, fantasy sports & gambling, agency & licensing, compliance, international sports, general counsel work, and sports & event management. Let me delve into what I gained from attending this conference.

The first panel involved music & entertainment. Now I know what you are probably thinking, “I only care about sports. Why do I need/want to listen to these lawyers”. Sports have become an enormous industry where there is now a lot of crossover between it and entertainment. Athletes today want to be more than just a sports star. They also want to be rappers, actors and even take on various business ventures. Therefore, meeting and networking with individuals in these industries is just as important as meeting someone like Leigh Steinberg or any other prominent sports agent.

The next panel was made up of agents and licensing representatives. This was a very interesting panel because we got to see both sides of a typical negotiation; an endorsement company and an agent. One of my favorite individuals in the sports law industry, Paul Loving, spoke in this panel. The insight he provides is real and encouraging. He is very charismatic and very open to hearing new ideas, which leads me to one of the other panelist, Steven Jeffrey. Steven Jeffrey is a former, professional rock-climber. One of the cool things about attending a conference is you learn about other industries and some of the obstacles that they face. In his case, it is the misrecognition of the excitement of watching his sport and how it does not generate a lot of revenue (despite its high risk). However, he is doing a good job at using his expertise and knowledge of the sport in order to break new grounds.

The next day was the longest between the two and it started with a panel focusing on compliance in college sports. These panelists primarily focused on NCAA regulations and the importance of institutional control. It was interesting to hear what the schools do to ensure that they are not lacking institutional control and how the NCCA imposes penalties when a violation occurs due to a lack of control by the school.

The next panel was about international sports. Now to be honest I usually do not have much interest in this topic. However, the Sports Law Society at University of Oregon did an incredible job of compiling a group of speakers who were extremely interesting. These speakers focused on the differences between their “sports clubs” concept versus our “league concept” and how they have a federation that regulates all of the sports in their Latin countries.

They spoke about what it takes to start a firm and even a sports team. Mr. Dave Galas is in the process of bringing a Premier Development Soccer League team (Lane United FC) to Eugene, OR. He discussed some of the challenges and the obstacles that must be overcome. Becky Mendoza brought an inspiring story from an action sports perspective. She initially worked for a renowned agency before she decided to start her own agency where she primarily focuses on obtaining visas for foreign action sports athletes. She had a ton of positive energy. I personally enjoyed speaking with her after her panel and have developed a relationship and another contact as a result.

I think largely most of us hope to become general counsel for a sports company(such as a sports team). The next panel provided us with an insightful look at what it takes to do just that.

They explained that it takes a lot of hard work, experience and, in some cases, a little luck. They also explained the roles of general counsel and how you have to be aware of which “hat” you are wearing. For example, there are some situations where you have to understand business intricacies and how certain decisions may affect the company. Then you must also understand the legal aspects and weigh the risks (if there are any) of their decision. Maya Mendoza-Exstrom also mentioned the importance of understanding what role you are in at what time become attorney-client privilege may be at risk if you are unaware. I also found J. Carlos Kuri to be very interesting as well. He is Vice President and General Counsel of Red Bull. I found him to be interesting because Red Bull is a very dynamic company. Although they are an energy drink company, they invest a lot in marketing and even in sporting events that they themselves put on. Because of how dynamic this company is, J. Carlos Kuri has to wear a lot of “hats” and must have a broad understanding of a variety of areas.

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The Univeristy of Oregon and its Sports Law Society did a fantastic job at putting this conference on. They have the most beautiful facilities as well as the most inviting students. Anytime I have an opportunity to go to the Univeristy of Oregon I know not to expect anything but great facilities and even more amazing people. The Sports law Society members there are some of the nicest and most well-organized people to put on a great conference such as this. I especially liked the fact that in between panels they scheduled a break so that attendees may speak and network with the panleists. I also want to thank these panelists for making the trip to Eugene, OR and taking the time out of their busy lives to show us what it takes to get to where they are today. Apart from personal gratification, I am sure a huge reason for why they participated was because of their knowingness of how beauitful and accomodating the Univeristy of Oregon is as well as its students. Thank you again and I look forward to attending once again next year to meet some more incredible people.

Below is a list of the Professionals/Speakers that were present:

Music & Entertainment

  • Guy Blake: Partner to Davis Shapiro Lewit Grabel Leven Granderson & Blake, LLP for Entertainment
  • Ian Humphrey: In-House Counsel for Insomniac Events
  • Kevin Mills Partner to Kaye & Mills

Agency & Licensing

  • Paul Loving: Former General Counsel to Nike and Current Managing Shareholder of Consul Group
  • Kyell Thomas: Current Agent of Octagon Entertainment
  • Adam Kelly: Current Associate General Counsel of Columbia Sportswear
  • Steven Jeffrey: Route-Setting Director of Momentum Climbing

Compliance

  • Oliver Luck: Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the NCAA
  • Gabe Feldman: Director of the Tulane Sports Law Program and Associate Provost for NCCA Compliance
  • Jody Sykes: Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Compliance Officer for University of Oregon Athletics
  • AJ Schaufler: Former Compliance Officer at Fresno State University

International Sports

  • Marcos Motta: Partner at Bichara e Motta Advogados
  • Luiz Felipe Guimaraes Santoro: Partner at Santoro Advogados
  • Sergio Ventura Engelburg: Legal Counsel for Sport Club Corinthians Paulista

Sports & Event Management

  • Dave Galas: Founder of Lane United FC
  • Felisa Israel: Founder and Owner of 10 Fold Entertainment
  • Becky Mendoza: Founder of Action Sports Law Group

General Counsel

  • Maya Mendoza-Exstrom: General Counsel for Seattle Sounders FC
  • Douglas Park: General Counsel for Univeristy of Oregon
  • Carlos Kuri: General Counsel for Red Bull
  • Ibrahima Soare: General Counsel for Federation Francaise de Tennis

 

—Garrett Robinson, contributing writer, The Aspiring Sports Lawyer Blog

 

If you have any questions concerning the University of Oregon’s Sports & Entertainment Conference or you would like your law school’s event to be reviewed and featured on TASL, please let us know and we will be glad to help out as best as we can. Please give this a share… Our hope is that these events will flourish once more people become aware of their existence and that aspiring sports lawyers will know of learning opportunities available to them throughout the country.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

NCAA Student-Athletes—Pay for Play?

As football season is getting into full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to write a piece about one of the most hot-button issues in sports—whether or not NCAA athletes should be compensated for their participation in sports.

I am writing not to share my opinion on the matter, but rather to promote a discussion so that others can share their opinions on the matter—so please feel free to leave comments or post your response on social media.

Both sides of the argument bring up great points. On one side, there are supporters of what seems to be the NCAA’s stance on the matter, which is that athletes should not be compensated for their play and that because this group is labeled “student-athletes” and to preserve the sanctity of amateurism, a scholarship to go to the respective school should be adequate “compensation”. On the other side of the spectrum are those that believe student-athletes are being exploited to generate revenue for their schools/NCAA without being adequately compensated for all the money that is brought to the institution due to their play.

It seems—from the former’s perspective—that student-athletes are “pampered royalty” and that there is no need to compensate such a privileged group that already seemingly have so many advantages. It is definitely true that student-athletes on most major Division I campuses enjoy the best facilities, free academic tutoring (debatable if this is really utilized in some cases), and, on occasion, extra benefits from university athletic donors (which is obviously an NCAA violation). It is evidenced in a few Public Infractions Appeals Committee Reports that student-athletes receive benefits like money, automobiles, free housing, and air travel.

On top of that, student-athletes have the opportunity to play in front of thousands of fans in stadiums each week—depending on the sport—and are glorified in a way that makes them seem like royalty. The athletes are also on television sets across the country in front of millions, which brings more fame. In some other cases, it is clear that student-athletes have the option of not doing their academic work, but rather, have tutors that do the student-athletes’ work for them. These are the arguments for why they are considered “pampered royalty” and why student-athletes should not receive compensation for playing their sport; however, the issue with this view is that many do not truly see the reality of the situation of most student-athletes and their academic and scheduling conflicts and the exploitation that goes on behind the scenes.

As to the argument for the side that believes student-athletes should be compensated, it seems that these student-athletes are “exploited victims” and “indentured servants” for their universities. According to 2013-14 data gathered by Daniel Rascher (a sports economists/expert witness who I will interview later so that his perspective and advice on sports law is available to the readers), Division I sports generate over eleven billion dollars in revenue per year—and that number is growing each year. It has been a continuous issue with student-athletes being seen as pampered royalty because of their facilities, the fame that comes along with playing sports, and the other benefits received by student-athletes that are not received by the “regular” student body. However, given the amount of money that these student-athletes generate for their universities, these “extra benefits” do not really amount to much—especially considering they are not allowed to receive anything more than a scholarship for school (which the “school” part is arguably not present in several cases due to the high demand and rigor of a Division I athlete’s schedule) and they are bringing in millions of dollars for their school each year.

In a recent case, O’Bannon v. NCAA, there is the issue of student-athletes having their name, image, and likeness being used in a major video game without the student-athlete signing off on this use or the student-athlete receiving any compensation. This, of course, is a major argument for the side that favors players being compensated. While the NCAA and video game company make millions, the athletes in the video game were being profited on without their permission (sorry to the NCAA gamers on Xbox and PS4—this is why there isn’t a video game out right now). Some argue that these athletes should be “happy” just having the privilege of being on a major video game while the other side argues that this is yet another form of exploiting these student-athletes without allowing them to receive any compensation or protection.

Whatever the case, I am not sure whether this debate will be settled any time soon. As I said before, there are credible arguments for both sides and there are definitely arguments for either side that I did not mention in the article—but hey, that’s why I want you all to share your opinion on the matter and bring new perspectives to the forefront.

I hope this article promotes some type of debate and sharing of ideas & information and I look forward to reading the responses. Be on the lookout for more articles, advice, and interviews that deal with sports and sports law topics very soon.

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

“You go to Chapel Hill and try to go to a Carolina-Duke game, good luck trying to find a ticket. It’s nationally televised. There’s so much money that goes behind just one basketball game. I do think the players from both sides should definitely see some type of benefit.”

Marvin Williams, former UNC-Chapel Hill basketball player

“I don’t think athletes are being exploited. I think there’s a symbiotic relationship there. Without the university platform for them to compete, there is no exposure for them. None. So that experience alone and that opportunity creates the platform for them, for visibility. I just think the money issue has clouded what the real purpose is, regardless of where the money is coming from and how much is coming in. I want the whole story to be told about the value of an education and put dollars to that.”

Judy Rose, athletics director, Charlotte 49ers

 
Read more quotes here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/college/mens-basketball/article9201149.html#storylink=cpy

– Dale Hutcherson