Brock Hoffman's Denied Waiver Request Shows How NCAA Transfer Restrictions Fail College Athletes

In February, 6’3”, 310-pound offensive lineman Brock Hoffman agreed to transfer to and play football for Virginia Tech. He followed proper NCAA procedures and filed a waiver request to play football at Virginia Tech this upcoming season because, according to the current NCAA rules, a college athlete who transfers from a four-year college to an NCAA institution must complete one academic year of residence unless they qualify for a transfer exception or are granted a waiver from the rule. So, he sought immediate eligibility under NCAA Bylaw 14.7’s “Residency Requirement" relief, reportedly stating that he is transferring to be closer to his mom since she had a brain tumor removed and still suffers lingering effects from the surgery (“facial paralysis, hear (sic) loss and eye sight issues”).

The NCAA denied Hoffman’s waiver request.

Let’s talk a bit about (a) the requirements for this type of transfer waiver, (b) whether Hoffman’s case satisfies those requirements and whether the facts could be used in a different way for a stronger argument in his favor, and (c) how this is likely to go down on appeal and why.

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The New Power Players in NCAA Policy Could Be State Legislators

As current and former athletes at NCAA-member institutions increasingly look toward the courts for relief from NCAA bylaws they deem unfair, a new ally has emerged in their endeavors to gain ground in this facet of the ongoing war between capital and labor. That new ally is state legislatures.

The mounting number of state legislatures who are considering drafting legislation aimed to give athletes at NCAA-member institutions more and new rights which aren’t currently afforded them under NCAA bylaws began in Washington state earlier this year.

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2019 Sports Law Hot Topics to Watch

The annual January tradition I know y’all look forward to is here - my predictions on what will be the hottest of the sports law hot topics! I settled on selecting six topics this year, and I must say, it was wonderfully hard to narrow down the list because there is a lot of meat we will get to digest over the next 12 months. (Disclaimer: I think #1 will be the hottest of the hot, but that may be my bias talking since that is one of my main wheelhouses!)

That said, I would also like to remind those of you who may be newly acquainted with the concept of “sports law” that, in all honesty, there is technically no such thing as “sports law,” per se. Rather, what a handful of attorneys and I do is specialize in understanding and zealously advocate to resolve diverse legal issues that take place within the sports industry because the law often treats sports in a special way relative to pretty much every other industry out there.

Keep reading for a brief descriptions of each topic’s current status, why I am including it on this list, and a few Twitter handles to follow for the latest news and analysis throughout the year:

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How the NCAA Could Join MLB in an Extremely Exclusive Club

Guest Post by Derek Helling

As the sports world awaits the ruling of Judge Claudia Wilken in Alston v. NCAA, her ruling is likely merely the overture for this drama. Her opinion is almost guaranteed to be appealed to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regardless of what it entails.

In the 9th is where the possibility lies for a ruling that could entrench the parameters of college athletics and put the NCAA on equal footing with one of the most powerful entities in the US as far as antitrust law is concerned, Major League Baseball. To understand this possible course of events, it’s necessary to understand the precedent which could be drawn upon.

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Reviewing My "2018 Sports Law Hot Topics to Watch" Predictions

Congratulations, y'all. We made it through 2018! Per our usual routine here on the Sports Law Blonde blog, let’s review the 2018 sports law hot topic predictions I made back in January to (a) see whether there has been any ground made, & (b) if not, speculate on why that might be the case. So, I straight up copy-and-pasted my previous blog post and added my new comments and wisdom at the end of each section in this type style.

LET'S DO THIS.

Per usual, I would like to make my predictions regarding what topics I believe will be extra sizzlin' in 2018, but I will do so in a slightly different way. Here are brief descriptions of what each topic is, some insight as to why I have it on my predictions list, and who you can pay attention to for the latest news, updates, and analysis throughout the upcoming year:

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10 Things to Know Before Before Signing an NLI

Kids are recruited by college athletic programs earlier than ever, and the recent addition of the Early Signing Period There is a lot of excitement surrounding a prospective college athlete’s verbal commitment to attend a certain university, and there is even more pomp and circumstance surrounding a highly recruited prospective college athlete’s “signing day”. Even for those who do not sit in front of a table with five hats and announce the school of choice on national television, signing a commitment letter and accompanying athletic financial aid letter agreement is a big deal (and deserves major congratulations!). Many people have at least heard about the document itself that these athletes sign - the National Letter of Intent (NLI) - but many may not know exactly how it works within the college recruitment process and the overall college athlete experience, generally.

In the spirit of the still controversial Early Signing Period for NCAA Division I Football quickly approaching and taking place December 19-21, here are 10 things prospective college athletes and their families or guardians should know before signing an NLI as well as fans and enthusiasts who want to better understand the nitty-gritty procedures involved

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What Maryland Can Do with DJ Durkin -An Employment Contract Analysis

During a preseason workout, University of Maryland redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed after a conditioning test comprised of ten 100-yard sprints (a.k.a. "suicides," a common athletics drill). From there, he was hospitalized and died two weeks later from heatstroke complications. Exactly what happened on the field during training that day and exactly who was on the field overseeing the workouts is currently under investigation.

The reports so far contain a lot of alleged details, but we will not know more of the full story until the investigations are complete. What we do know comes from a Tuesday press conference [see full transcript], UMD President Wallace D. Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans stated that McNair's treatment did not include cold-water immersion and that "care we provided was not consistent with best practices." Moreover, Loh went on to say that they met with McNair's family to apologize and take "legal and moral responsibility" for what happened leading up to their son's death. We also know that Maryland Head Football Coach DJ Durkin, along with three of his staff members, were placed on administrative leave and that strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, the man who was running the workout, officially received the boot.

There could be many components at play here that we, unfortunately, need to wait to truly find out: any signs of struggle earlier in the workout; whether proper protocol was followed by the coaches, including those for precautions under certain conditions and medical guidelines for attending to any resulting injuries; whether Durkin was aware of the workout conditions; whether Durkin was aware of any protocols not being followed; whether Durkin was there when it all went down (according to reports, he was there); and whether McNair had any pre-existing health conditions that people were unaware of could also come into play in determining how toxic the football culture at Maryland is under Durkin's watch.

So, what can Maryland do with DJ Durkin, from a legitimate legal perspective?

To figure this out, let's (a) go over why we are focusing on the exact terms of Durkin's contract with Maryland, (b) highlight a few sections that may be triggered in determining what will happen with Durkin's employment status, & (c) use those sections to support the three potential scenarios - firing with "cause", firing without "cause", or keeping him.

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