Duke Center for Sports and the Law to host panel discussion among high-level sports executives

November 6, 2009Duke Law News

Nov. 6, 2009 — High-level industry figures will discuss the internationalization of American professional team sports during the Duke Center for Sports and the Law’s inaugural event on Dec. 9 at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City.

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas T’86, L’92 will moderate a conversation among panelists including Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business of Major League Baseball, Adam Silver T’84, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer of the National Basketball Association, and Jim Tanner, a partner at Williams & Connolly specializing in sports and entertainment law and negotiations. In 2006, the SportsBusiness Journal recognized Tanner as one of the most promising young executives in sports business.

The event is co-sponsored by Duke Law School and the Duke University Department of Athletics. » View the event invitation and RSVP here.

“The Center for Sports and the Law will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas on a wide range of legal issues that arise in professional and collegiate sports,” Dean David F. Levi says. “With our considerable faculty expertise in this area, Duke Law School is well positioned to contribute to our understanding of modern sport and its regulation.

“Given the University’s longstanding strength in athletics, it is particularly exciting to work with Kevin M. White, vice president and director of athletics, in starting this Center,” Levi adds. “We both expect that the Center will draw on the many friends and alumni of the University and the Law School, many of whom have a passionate interest in sports and in law and who have careers at the highest reaches of sport and sports law.”

“This is a tremendous collaboration between the Duke Law School and Duke Athletics and another example of university departments working together,” White says. “College athletics has expanded dramatically over the years and given that growth, legal issues impacting the industry are more prevalent than ever. The establishment of the Duke Center for Sports and the Law is an appropriate step in examining these matters by some of the brightest legal minds in the field.”

The Center for Sports and the Law represents the Law School’s commitment to studying contemporary legal, business, and ethical issues through the lens of professional and college athletics. Faculty members aligned with the Center will organize conferences, publish research findings, and speak publicly on these topics.

“Sport has clearly become one of the most critical forms of international cultural exchange, and it has some of the most elaborate and effective international organizations,” says Professor Paul Haagen, an expert in contracts, the social history of law, and law and sports whose forthcoming book examines the latter topic. “It is also the way in which many legal issues are presented to the public, issues related to labor, anti-trust, even criminal law. It therefore becomes an opportunity to talk about these things in ways that are particularly salient for the public.

“Duke is one of a limited number of institutions that is both a really important research university and that competes in sports at the highest levels,” adds Haagen, who has advised Duke student-athletes for more than 20 years as a member of the University’s professional sports counseling committee. “It’s a place where it makes sense to be looking at these issues.”

The Center for Sports and the Law will draw upon the expertise of Haagen and numerous other faculty members with sports law experience, including Professor John C. Weistart; Professor Doriane Coleman; Professor James Coleman Jr., Duke’s John S. Bradway Professor of Law; and Professor Charles T. Clotfelter, Duke’s Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics and Law.

Weistart co-authored The Law of Sports, a foundational work in the sports law field. Doriane Coleman won four national championships in track and field during 14 years of domestic and international competition for Nike and the Swiss and U.S. national teams and was centrally involved in developing USA Track & Field’s anti-doping program. James Coleman, a former high jumper at Harvard University, has been involved with cases involving the drug policies of USA Track & Field, the National Football League, and the International Triathlon Federation. Clotfelter is writing a book that examines the role of big-time athletics at American universities.

“Sport presents some really interesting legal problems. It raises issues of competition and limits of competition in unusual and particularly intense ways,” Haagen says. “It really is an interesting set of issues to study.”