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:Read More
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:Read More
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 involvedRead More
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.Read More
Ohio State University is the latest entity trapped in the knotted-up business ethics & moral dilemma of what to do with a person of high authority who could have known about domestic violence allegations against a staffer and failed to do what he was supposed to do. Yesterday afternoon, OSU placed head football coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave while the university conducts an investigation into the issue at hand - whether Meyer knew about the domestic violence allegations against his former wide receiver coach, Zach Smith, by his ex-wife Courtney Smith and failed to follow the university's protocol according to the terms of his employment.
Expect a resolution very quickly. The football team starts practices in a few days, and when someone is placed on paid administrative leave, that is a pretty good sign that the parties involved are negotiating terms of separation. Here, it is uncertain at this time whether OSU interprets Meyers possible behavior as violating the terms of his employment. Furthermore, that would absolutely influence how OSU goes about any separation discussions, but at the same time, it would be understandable that both parties want to handle this and move forward in a swift, adequate fashion.Read More
This weekend is the 83rd Annual National Football League Player Selection Meeting, a.k.a. the 2018 NFL Draft! If a team has a successful draft, Lord knows that its trajectory can change dramatically. Because of these stakes, the league has formalized the process over the years to (try to) become more equitable to every team. As you can imagine, player selection means contracts on contracts on contracts, rules and regulation enforcement, a shift from amateur to professional status, and OH so much more law-related fun. Here are a few fun bits of knowledge y'all should store in your brains.Read More
Over a week has passed since ESPN let loose its detailed report stemming from Larry Nassar's sexual assault incidences. The entire situation regarding the adequacy and possible active sexual assault cover ups at Michigan State University is unfortunate because there is so much that happened in the past that cannot be sufficiently remedied beyond justice being served. Some people are beginning to speak out against sexual assault cases they personally experienced, and some people are choosing to dig deeper into the dirt, almost as if trying to take ESPN's Outside the Lines report to the next level (and that report already took things to an uncomfortable but necessary level). In doing so, this creates a problem that implicates certain Michigan State figures - at this point, are we able to separate subjective opinion and irresponsible journalism from objective facts to learn what has really been going down in East Lansing?Read More