Law & Sports

B678 is taught by K. Brown

This course will address a number of significant issues that arise in Sports Law. While we will touch on a few issues involving high school athletics, most of our discussions will focus on intercollegiate and professional sports. For intercollegiate athletics, we will discuss regulating Intercollegiate Athletics, including the history of the NCAA, the relationship of the student athlete and the University, eligibility of student athletes, and enforcement of NCAA rules. One of the most unusual aspects of collegiate sports is that the revenue generating sports of FBS football and Division I basketball, produce a tremendous amount of income for the NCAA and colleges and universities. For example, the NCAA funds its entire annual operations on less than half of the one billion dollars it receives for the television rights for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Many of the educational institutions use the funds generated by basketball and football to pay for the operations of all of their other sports programs. Yet, compensation for the football and basketball players is severely limited by the NCAA requirement that they must be amateurs in order to be eligible to compete. No other area in American society involves a situation where those who generate the income are so limited in what they can be paid for their labor. As a result, much of the recent developments in collegiate sports involve the issue of compensating student athletes in the revenue generating sports, most of whom are black males. These developments include a number of antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA. We will devote a significant amount of time understanding the complexities of this issue, especially the impact of antitrust law on collegiate sports. We will also cover the significant impact of Title IX on gender discrimination in intercollegiate athletics. Title IX has changed American norms regarding participation of women in sports. This is also one area of law where the use of the middle level scrutiny test under the equal protection clause for gender discrimination, as opposed to strict scrutiny for race, makes a huge difference.

We will cover a number of important issues relevant to the operation of professional sports, including the evolution of sports as a business and a profession, the internal league governance structure, and the commissioner s authority. Before free agency in sports, which starts with the Curt Flood case in the early 1970s, there was little need for sports agents. But, free agency had a tremendous impact on professional sports and its institution typically involved very long and contentious work stoppages. Thus, we will discuss in detail labor law issues related to the development of free agency, the role of the sports agent, and the role of the players associations. Drug testing for both recreational drugs and performance enhancing drugs has been another contentious area in pro sports. We will talk about drug testing, including the aftermath of the steroid scandal in Major League Baseball. We will also focus on the Concussion Lawsuit that has dominated concern about the future of the NFL for years.