Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A place for this blog and its EIC

Slate's weekly sports podcast "Hang Up and Listen" leads off this week with a discussion of the end of the NBA lockout. One of the points of discussion is the failure of the sports media to fully grasp and accurately cover the bargaining process. Not being experienced in how labor and litigation negotiations work, reporters fall for dramatic, tragic, and pessimistic narratives because, to their eyes, the process appears to be failing. They specifically note Bill Simmons' calls for both David Stern and Billy Hunter to be fired for their mismanagement of this process, a sentiment widely shared by fans but not by experienced labor experts (who recognize legal posturing as all part of the negotiation process).

If this assessment is accurate, it presents a good argument for this blog and, in particular, for Mike's work on ESPN and NBA-TV. They provide voice that can report and opine on the legal issues from a real position of experience, avoiding the narrative traps.

Time for Transformative Change in Intercollegiate Athletics

Well, I've spent the better part of the fall semester thinking and talking about change in intercollegiate athletics. I figured it was time to put my ideas and arguments down on paper and, as such, wrote a brief article, summing up my thoughts and, more importantly, making some recommendations.

The essay was just posted on Huffington Post here.

In sum, I argue that we need to address three key areas: 1) Academics & Integrity, 2) The Interests and Experiences of Student-athletes; and 3) Accountability.

Let me know what you think...and help me improve my proposals.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NBA TV Interview: Remaining Steps

I joined David Aldridge, Reggie Miller, Dennis Scott and Matt Winer tonight on NBA TV to talk about remaining steps for there to be NBA basketball on December 25. 

New Sports Illustrated Inside Report Interview: Legal Fallout of Bernie Fine Scandal

International Sports Law Review Pandektis

The most recent issue of the International Sports Law Review Pandektis, an IASL-sponsored journal, has been published. A number of articles caught my eye that Sports Law Blog readers may be interested in. Of particular note is the article published by Stephen Argeris pertaining to the MLB draft, which was presented earlier this year at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and last year at the International Sport Law & Business Conference.

The complete table of contents for the most recent issue can be found here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

NBA and Players Talk Litigation Settlement: Will it lead to new CBA?

I was on NBA TV this afternoon to talk about owners and players having litigation settlement talks, how they can convert those talks into a new CBA, and why there is reason to be optimistic. 

Could David Boies be the X Factor for players and help them reach a deal with NBA that Billy Hunter, Derick Fisher and Jeffrey Kessler couldn't? 

More known for his litigation skills than settlement skills, this could become Boies's finest hour.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sports as protected expression?

For all my writing on fan speech, this is a place I never thought to go: Last week, UFC and several UFC fighters have challenged New York's ban on MMA exhibitions and profiting from those exhibitions on, among other things, First Amendment grounds. The argument is that the state is targeting the message of MMA through a commercial ban, even though the activities themselves are lawful in a gym. The plaintiffs are represented by Barry Friedman, a great con law scholar at NYU (and, I am guessing, an MMA fan).

Friedman has tried to argue that MMA is mixed martial arts, so is an activity that is more uniquely performative than other sports (more akin to dancing than basketball), so it does not necessarily follow that all sports are expressive. Or maybe all sports are expressive, with whatever legal issues that may create.

As I said, I had never thought to go here. But if sport is expressive, then I believe my arguments that watching and cheering for sports gains added strength.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Real-Life Fantasy Sports Law: Enter the Lobbyists

Back in August, I blogged about the proliferation of the fantasy sports industry and whether certain fantasy sports games might violate state gambling laws. I also posted a draft of my newest law review article: "A Short Treatise on Fantasy Sports and the Law."

Since then, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association ("FSTA") has announced the hiring of Travis McCoy, a former aid to Senator John Boehner (R-Ohio), to serve as its first official lobbyist. According to USA Today, the FSTA "still is deciding what states it will target first."

The FSTA's hiring of a lobbyist is noteworthy on several levels. First, it signals an acknowledgement by the industry that certain state gambling laws are unfavorable to fantasy sports. In addition, it shows the early stages of collective action within the fantasy sports industry.

It will be interesting to see if the FSTA’s lobbying efforts will target only state gambling laws that disallow fantasy sports leagues, or if they will also target state laws that limit fantasy websites' administrative fees. For example, Montana law currently limits fantasy sports websites to charging 15% in administrative fees. This limit is probably unpopular with fantasy sports businesses. However, it is intended to protect fantasy participants.

Monday, November 21, 2011

NBA Players drop lawsuit in California - focus on lawsuit in Minnesota

A little bit of litigation news tonight.  I discuss it on NBA TV.

Also, it was announced that the Honorable U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz will be the judge for Carmelo Anthony et al. v. NBA. Schiltz, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is a former clerk to U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia and former professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. A practicing attorney in Minnesota in 1995, Schiltz represented the T-Wolves in case re: relocation of team to New Orleans. In the case, the NBA Board of Governors rejected sale of T-Wolves to investor group, "Top Rank", in New Orleans. NBA then sued both T-Wolves and Top Rank, seeking declaratory order from court that T-Wolves owners could not sell team to Top Rank w/o league approval. Schiltz represented T-Wolves, which eventually joined the side of the NBA in the litigation. Not only was he lawyer in litigation over T-Wolves failed relocation to New Orleans, but Schiltz represented NFL in several cases, including Powell v. NFL and McNeil v. NFL. McNeil helped lead to new CBA between NFL and NFL players.

New Sports Law Scholarship

Recently published sports law scholarship includes:
Jessica L. Adair, In a league of their own: the case for intersex athletes, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 121 (2011)

Adam Epstein & Bridget Niland, Exploring Ethical Issues and Examples by Using Sport, 13 ATLANTIC LAW JOURNAL 13 (2011)

James R. Andrews, Why are there so many injuries to our young athletes? Professionalization and specialization in youth sport, 40 UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE LAW REVIEW 575 (2011)

Ross Appel, Note, Head east, young man (and comparatively older men who are likely to languish in the minor leagues), 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 109 (2010)

Andrew D. Appleby, For the love of the game: the justification for tax exemption in intercollegiate athletics, 44 JOHN MARSHALL LAW REVIEW 179 (2010)

Jessica Baranko, Hear me roar: should universities use live animals as mascots?, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 599 (2011)

Jonathan Bateman, Book Note, Reviewing Billy Hawkins, The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly White NCAA Institutions, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 793 (2011)

Eric Blevins, College football’s BCS (bowl cartel system?): an examination of the Bowl Championship Series agreement under the Sherman Act, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 153 (2011)

Victor Broccoli, Policing the digital wild West: NCAA recruiting regulations in the age of Facebook and Twitter, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 43 (2011)

Christine A. Burns, Comment, Potential game changers only have eligibility left to suit up for a different kind of court: former student-athletes bring class action antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, 6 JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY LAW 391 (2011)

Loftus C. Carson, II & Michelle A. Rinehart, The big business of college game day, 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 1 (2010)

Marc Charmatz, Lindy L. Hedges-Wright & Matthew Alex Ward, Personal foul: lack of captioning in football stadiums 45 VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 967 (2011)

Josh Chetwynd, Clubhouse controversy: a study of dispute resolution processes between teammates in Major League baseball, 16 HARVARD NEGOTIATION LAW REVIEW 31 (2011)

Christopher B. Chuff, Comment, “Rolling the dice” on financial regulatory reform: gambling law as a framework for regulating structured investments, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 569 (2011)

Jeremy Corapi, Note, Huddle up: using mediation to help settle the National Football League labor dispute, 21 FORDHAM INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 789 (2011)

Joshua B. Couvillion, Note, Defending for its life: ChampionsWorld LLC v. United States Soccer Federation denies extending antitrust immunity to USSF in regulating professional soccer, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 325 (2011)

Caitlin M. Cullitan, Note, “I’m his coach, not his father.” A Title IX analysis of sexual harassment in college sports, 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 53 (2010)

Elizabeth Hart Dahill, Note, Hosting the Games for all and by all: the right to adequate housing in Olympic host cities, 36 BROOKLYN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 1111 (2011)

Darren Heitner & Jason Wolf, In Baseball's Best Interest?: A Discussion of the October 2010 MLBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents, 10 VIRGINIA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 249 (2011)

Marc Edelman & Joseph A. Wacker, Collectively bargained age/education requirements: a source of antitrust risk for sports club-owners or labor risk for players unions?, 115 PENN STATE LAW REVIEW 341 (2010)

Marc Edelman, Does the NBA still have “market power?” Exploring the antitrust implications of an increasingly global market for men’s basketball player labor, 41 RUTGERS LAW JOURNAL 549 (2010)

Brad Ehrlichman, In this corner: an analysis of federal boxing legislation, 34 COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF LAW & ARTS 421 (2011)

Mitchell L. Engler, The untaxed king of South Beach: LeBron James and the NBA salary cap, 48 SAN DIEGO LAW REVIEW 601 (2011)

Natasha C. Farmer, Note, Jockey advertising regulations in horseracing, 3 KENTUCKY JOURNAL OF EQUINE, AGRICULTURAL & NATURAL RESOURCES LAW 103 (2010-2011)

Meir Feder, Is there life after death for sports league immunity? American Needle and beyond, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 407 (2011)

Lauren Ferrante, Note, Two for one: how the NCAA rules do not adequately address package deals and a proposed rule to prohibit them, 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 77 (2010)

David Franklin, Note, League parity: bringing back unlicensed competition in the sports fan apparel market, 86 CHICAGO-KENT LAW REVIEW 987 (2011)

Laurie C. Frey, How the smallest market in professional sports had the easiest financial journey: the renovation of Lambeau Field, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 259 (2011)

Kristina M. GerardiTackles that rattle the brain, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 181 (2011)

Ariana E. Gillies, Comment, Not with a bang, but a whimper: Congress’s proposal to overturn the Supreme Court’s Leegin decision with the Discount Pricing Consumer Protection Act of 2009, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 645 (2011)

Nathaniel Grow, Louisville v. Duke and its implications for breached college football scheduling agreements, 37 JOURNAL OF COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY LAW 239 (2011)

Jennifer Gustafson, Comment, Bronze, silver, or gold: does the International Olympic Committee deserve a medal for combating human trafficking in connection with the Olympic Games?, 41 CALIFORNIA WESTERN INTERNTAIONAL LAW JOURNAL 433 (2011)

Diane Heckman, The entrenchment of the glass sneaker ceiling: excavating forty-five years of sex discrimination involving educational athletic employment based on Title VII, Title IX and the Equal Pay Act, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 429 (2011)

Dennis P. Hughes, Jr., Book Note, Reviewing Bill Madden, Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 801 (2011)

Michelle R. Hull, Note, Sports leagues’ new social media policies: enforcement under copyright law and state law, 34 COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF LAW & ARTS 457 (2011)

Bryan T. Ikegami, Note, From dumpster to dicta: how the BALCO investigation created incurable violations of players' rights and how to prevent them,34 COLUMBIA JOURNAL OF LAW & ARTS 491 (2011)

Mohit Khare, Note, Foul ball! The need to alter current liability standards for spectator injuries at sporting events, 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 91 (2010)

Robb Kuczynski, Book Note, Reviewing Charles H. Martin, Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 787 (2011)

Adam Harris Kurland, The prosecution of Michael Vick: of dogfighting, depravity, dual sovereignty, and “A Clockwork Orange,” 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 465 (2011)

Christina Lembo, Comment, FIFA transfer regulations and UEFA player eligibility rules: major changes in European football and the negative effect on minors, 25 EMORY INTERNATIONAL LAW REVIEW 539 (2011)

Sheri Lipman, The story of the disappearing season: should strict liability be used in the NCAA infractions process?, 41 UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LAW REVIEW 847 (2011)

James T. & Lisa P. Masteralexis, If you’re hurt, where is home? Recently drafted minor league baseball players are compelled to bring workers’ compensation action in team’s home state or in jurisdiction more favorable to employers, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 575 (2011)

Robert A. & Amy Christian McCormick, Major college sports: a modern apartheid, 12 TEXAS REVIEW OF ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS LAW 13 (2010)

James T. McKeown, The economics of competitive balance: sports antitrust claims after American Needle, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 517 (2011)

Richard H. McLaren, Is sport losing its integrity?, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 551 (2011)

Mary Catherine Moore, Note, There is no “I” in NCAA: why college sports video games do not violate college athletes’ rights of publicity such to entitle them to compensation for use of their likenesses, 18 JOURNAL OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW 269 (2010)

William E. Nesnidal, The fan can phenomenon: the scope of universities’ color schemes as trademarks in light of Budweiser’s team pride campaign, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 283 (2011)

John V. O’Grady, Casenote, The end of indecency? The Second Circuit invalidates the FCC’s indecency policy in Fox Television Stations, Inc. v. FCC, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 527 (2011)

Elizabeth Odian, Preventing Sonicsgate: the ongoing problem of
franchise relocation

David A. Palanzo, Comment, Safety squeeze: banning non-wood bats is not the answer to amateur baseball’s bat problem, 51 JURIMETRICS JOURNAL 319 (2011)

R. Alexander Payne, Note, Rebuilding the prevent defense: why unethical agents continue to score and what can be done to change the game, 13 VANDERBILT JOURNAL OF ENTERTAINMENT & TECHNOLOGY LAW 657 (2011)

David Pepper, Comment, Anand v. Kapoor, 55 NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL LAW REVIEW 1191-1211 (2010/11)

Christopher Powell, Comment, Premises liability in California: chilling the diffusion of bicycle motocross, 47 CALIFORNIA WESTERN LAW REVIEW 329 (2011)

Timothy Poydenis, The unfair treatment of Dominican-born baseball players: how Major League Baseball abuses the current system and why it should implement a worldwide draft in 2012, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 305 (2011)

Erica N. Reib, Comment, Ante up or fold: what should be done about gambling in college sports?, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 621 (2011)

Ryan M. Rodenberg & Andrea N. Eagleman, Uneven bars: age rules, antitrust, and amateurism in women’s gymnastics, 40 UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE LAW REVIEW 587 (2011)

Chris Sagers, Why Copperweld was actually kind of dumb: sound, fury and the once and still missing antitrust theory of the firm, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 377 (2011)

Michael C. Shull, Comment, Biting the hand that feeds: how trademark protection might threaten school spirit, 21 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 641-665 (2011)

Rachel D. Solomon, Note, Cuban baseball players, the unlucky ones: United States-Cuban professional baseball relations should be an integral part of the United States-Cuba relationship, 10 JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AND LAW 153 (2011)

Patrick Sterk, To pray or to play: religious discrimination in the scheduling of interscholastic athletic events, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 235 (2011)

Alexander F. Tilton, Note, Mayer v. Belichick: “spygate” scandal is not the court’s concern, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 341 (2011)

Brian Welch, Comment, Unconscionable amateurism: how the NCAA violates antitrust by forcing athletes to sign away their image rights, 44 JOHN MARSHALL LAW REVIEW 533 (2011)

Kevin W. Wells, Labor relations in the National Football League: a historical and legal perspective, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 93 (2011)

Gregory J. Werden, American Needle and the application of the Sherman Act to professional sports leagues, 18 VILLANOVA SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT LAW JOURNAL 395 (2011)

Matthew A. Westover, Comment, The breaking point: examining the potential liability of maple baseball bat manufacturers for injuries caused by broken maple baseball bats, 115 PENN STATE LAW REVIEW 517 (2010)

Ulysses S. Wilson, Comment. The standard of care between coparticipants in mixed martial arts: why recklessness should ‘submit’ to the ordinary negligence standard, 20 WIDENER LAW JOURNAL 375 (2011)

Roberta Furst Wolf, Note. Conflicting anti-doping laws in professional sports: collective bargaining agreements v. state law, 34 SEATTLE UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 1605 (2011)

Daniel J. Zajda, A true home field advantage: a striking coincidence in the criminal prosecutions of professional athletes for in-game violence, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 1 (2011)

Michael K. Zitelli, The controversy ensues: how Major League Baseball’s use of DNA testing is a matter for concern under the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, 18 SPORTS LAWYERS JOURNAL 21 (2011)

University of Baltimore Law Professor Dionne Koller on Penn State Scandal

There have been a number of provocative and well-argued commentaries on the Penn State scandal.  University of Baltimore School of Law Professor Dionne Koller provides another one and from a vantage point that has not been raised: It's a Guy Thing at Penn State, and That's a Problem

Temple Law Professor Jermei Duru on Penn State scandal

Great piece on The Post Game by Professor Jeremi Duru on the Penn State scandal - Explaining Penn State Scandal To My Dad.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NY Times Article on becoming a law professor: Is it like a pro sports draft?

Very provocative article today by David Segal of the NY Times.  Among many points critical of law school teaching and of allocation of law school resources - and students' tuition dollars - on arguably irrelevant or ponderous legal scholarship, he makes an apt comparison between how one becomes a law professor and how a prospect participates in a pro sports draft:
The Prestige Game

About half of all law school hiring begins at the Faculty Recruitment Conference, widely known as the meat market, held by the Association of American Law Schools. It is conducted every year at the Marriott in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington.

At this year’s conference, in October, nearly 500 aspiring law professors turned up for interviews with 165 law schools. Like the draft of every professional sport, there are superstars here and for two days they were hotly pursued. At the top of the pile were former Supreme Court clerks. Just under them were candidates with both a J.D. and a Ph.D. in another discipline. Law schools, especially those in the upper echelons, have been smitten by Ph.D.-J.D.’s for more than a decade.

Ori J. Herstein, who studied philosophy in grad school and is a doctor in the science of law, says that “an economics Ph.D. is the most valuable,” and that “the further away you get from the humanities the better.”

Mr. Herstein was sitting in the Marriott lobby between interviews. Israeli-born and cheerful in a boyishly wonky way, he has a résumé that seems custom-built to tantalize law school recruiters. He has two degrees from Columbia, which, along with a handful of other elite schools — most notably Yale — has become a farm team for the credential-obsessed legal academy. He has already published a handful of  law review articles with promisingly esoteric titles (“Historic Injustice and the Non-Identity Problem: The Limitations of the Subsequent-Wrong Solution and Towards a New Solution”) and has submitted another that sounds perfectly inscrutable (“Why Nonexistent People Do Not Have Zero Well-Being but Rather No Well-Being”).
To read this article, click here.

NBA's "one and done" rule: if lockout persists, will someone challenge rule?

Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explores the possibility of the NBA holding a draft during an extended lockout.  The draft and particularly the "one and done" eligibility rule -- which requires that U.S. players be 19-years-old and one year removed from high school -- would be subject to antitrust challenge, as they would no longer be borne from collective bargaining.  Reed interviews Alan Milstein, Sonny Vaccaro and me on the topic.

For a great discussion on the empirical analysis of players who have jumped from high school to the NBA, see Zach Lowe's recent SI column

Related point: there is a very good chance that when the lockout is ultimately resolved, and a new CBA is in place, the eligibility rule will be raised to 20-years-old and two years removed from high school.  Whether that will motivate players to skip what would be their freshman and sophomore years in college to play professionally in Europe for a couple of years remains to be seen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Penn State Debate: Are NCAA Sanctions Inevitable?

Pennsylvania State University (“Penn State”) has always been an institution of great prestige and moral character, but within a few short days, the institution where the patriarchal football coach preached, “success with honor,” had been utterly shamed and dishonored. Now, it appears that the NCAA may be piling on. 

By now, we’ve all heard the disturbing allegations against former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, and details continue to emerge regarding the indefensible cover up of these egregious acts. Penn State has already taken steps towards remedying this situation by firing Coach Joe Paterno and President Graham Spanier, and accepting the resignations of Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz. These actions taken by the Board of Trustees have elicited mixed emotions from the community. Penn State students rioted in response to Paterno’s firing, yet just a few days later, a moment of silence for the victims was held at the outset of the Penn State Nebraska game. As evidenced by their tweets, Penn State players expressed empathy for the victims, but were also saddened by the loss of their coach. In a situation such as this, with so many details yet to be uncovered, it seems as though no one really knows how to act. One thing is certain, however, and that’s that those responsible will be punished.

The criminal and civil consequences notwithstanding, the question has been asked: what would the NCAA do? On Friday, NCAA President Mark Emmert provided an answer. Emmert announced in a letter to new Penn State President Rod Erickson that the NCAA will conduct an investigation into whether Penn State failed to exercise institutional control over its intercollegiate athletics programs. The NCAA may look into numerous provisions in its investigation. Bylaw 10.1  lists examples of what the NCAA considers unethical conduct. The bylaw states that the unethical conduct is “not limited to” the conduct provided in the examples. The NCAA could use this non-exhaustive clause to find the conduct of Sandusky and others to be unethical, and therefore, punishable by the NCAA. Furthermore, bylaw 11.1 details the conduct of athletics personnel and states that coaches must act with honesty “at all times.” Certainly the requirement of forthrightness is not limited solely to the field of play or the purely athletic context. Moreover, bylaw states that it is the responsibility of the head coach to monitor the conduct of all assistant coaches and administrators to ensure an atmosphere of compliance. Overall, if it is discovered that administrators knew of these acts and either ignored or deliberately concealed the heinous conduct, Penn State could face the dreaded charge of “lack of institutional control.”

To be sure, any NCAA sanctions that may stem from this incident are of tertiary concern in comparison to bringing those responsible to justice and attaining some semblance of retribution for the victims, but Penn State administrators have undoubtedly been cognizant of this possibility. There are no provisions that specifically prohibit Sandusky’s alleged conduct or the covering up of such conduct, as such should simply be a matter of human decency, but if the NCAA does decide to issue sanctions against Penn State, no one will question its justification for doing so.

Yet, it is conceivable that the NCAA will do nothing here, and it is likely to let law enforcement run its course before making any definitive conclusions. It is worth noting that this case does not involve any violations on the part of the student-athletes, and the NCAA may be reluctant to impose sanctions because ultimately, the student-athletes will be most affected. Additionally, the NCAA has been historically leery to take action when a serious criminal investigation is at issue, with the Duke Lacrosse case being a recent example of this approach. The NCAA, though, may simply be waiting for the full array of facts before taking action.

Even in the wake of the recent slew of scandals transpiring in collegiate athletics, this scandal is beyond shameful when one considers the innocent lives affected and the misdeeds of the adults who were entrusted with their care. Ironically, in August 2011, former Penn State President, Graham Spanier commented on the U’s violations stating“We absolutely must put this climate of rule-breaking behind us.” On November 11, Penn State’s Board of Trustees created a Special Committee for the sole purpose of investigating this scandal. According to the Board, the Committee will be given whatever resources necessary to make sure that an incident like this never happens again, and the Committee will be charged with holding those responsible fully accountable. It seems as though Penn State will have to heed the advice of its former President and mend its reputation. A reputation that is undoubtedly far more tarnished than any stain that could be caused by NCAA sanctions.

Hat tip to law clerks Brian Konkel and Gabriela Schultz for their work on this piece.

Sports Law Internship Opportunity

The Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball are seeking a second or third year law student for an internship in the team's legal department this upcoming spring semester. Those interested in the position can learn more here:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coming Soon: NBA Forum Wars (and Why Choice of Venue will Matter)

By now, most readers are aware of three antitrust lawsuits that seek to address whether the NBA's league-wide lockout represents an illegal group boycott under Section 1 of the Sherman Act:
- Butler v. National Basketball Association (filed by NBA players against the league on Nov. 15, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, which is part of the 8th Circuit).

- Anthony v. National Basketball Association (filed by NBA players against the league on Nov. 15, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which is part of the 9th Circuit).

- National Basketball Association v. National Basketball Players Association (filed as a declaratory judgment suit by the NBA teams against the players on Aug. 2, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which is part of the 2d. Circuit).
Soon, a battle will likely emerge between the parties about which forum should hear this dispute. In a nutshell, here are two reasons why the ultimate forum might affect the case's result.

(1) Differences in Interpreting Antitrust Law's Non-Statutory Labor Exemption Make the 8th and 9th Circuits More Favorable to the Players than the 2d. Cir.

One of the key defenses in any labor-side antitrust challenge is the non-statutory labor exemption: a defense arguing that a particular claim is preempted from antitrust scrutiny by labor law. However, not all circuits apply the non-statutory labor exemption in the same manner.

In both the 8th and 9th Circuits, courts have repeatedly held that the non-statutory labor exemption shields from antitrust scrutiny only activities that (1) involve mandatory subjects of bargaining, (2) primarily affect the parties involved, and (3) are reached through bona fide arms' length bargaining. Based on this standard, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota concluded in McNeil v. Nat'l Football League, 790 F. Supp. 871 (D. Minn. 1991) that the non-statutory labor exemption cannot apply after a union disclaims interest: presumably because after a disclaimer the second and third prongs of the non-statutory labor exemption cannot be met.

By contrast, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Clarett v. Nat'l Football League rejected the 8th & 9th Circuit definition of the non-statutory labor exemption in favor of a far broader non-statutory labor exemption. Thus, in the Second Circuit, the mere act of disclaiming union interest might not impose immediate liability on a sports league for maintaining terms originally implemented before such a disclaimer.

For more on the differences in interpreting the non-statutory labor exemption in the 2d. Cir. from the 8th/9th Cir., see my law review articles addressing the circuit split in the context of age requirements here and here, and Professor McCann's articles discussing this split in the context of age requirements here and here.

(2) Differences in Interpreting "Market Power" in a Labor-Side Antitrust Case

In addition, the NBA teams may seek to defend their league-wide lockout under antitrust law by arguing that the relevant market for professional basketball labor is worldwide and that within a worldwide market the NBA teams lack the requisite "market power" to illegally restrain trade under the Rule of Reason. In determining whether the relevant geographic market for men's basketball labor is limited to the United States or extends to the entire world, a court would likely consider within what range the movement of workers is "practicable."

While many NBA players' lack of interest in playing overseas may seem to indicate that doing so is not practicable and thus to relevant market should be confined to the U.S. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit case Tanaka v. University of Southern California, 252 F.3d 1059 (9th Cir. 2001) seems to go against that point. There, the court disregarded a female collegiate soccer player's preference to only accept employment near her family's home in Los Angeles in favor of the view that the market for her services extended to a greater geographic region.

While the court's holding in Tanaka does not directly bar the Ninth Circuit from finding a market for men's basketball labor that is limited to the U.S., it seems to introduce one more bar for the players' lawyers to overcome.

For more on the NBA's potential "lack of market power" defense, see my recent Rutgers Law Journal article Does the NBA Still Have 'Market Power?' Exploring the Antitrust Implications of an Increasingly Global Market for Men's Basketball Player Labor.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Questioning the NBA Players' Litigation Strategy

NBA players filed two different antitrust lawsuits against the NBA owners on Tuesday, one in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and one in the District for Minnesota. Although I haven't yet been able to track down a copy of either complaint online, the players' attorney David Boies has stated that he doesn't intend to pursue a preliminary injunction lifting the NBA's lockout in either case. Boies, of course, previously represented the NFL owners in the Brady v. NFL litigation this past spring, where he successfully persuaded a majority of the Eighth Circuit panel that a preliminary injunction blocking a lockout is improper under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

Despite the Eighth Circuit's decision in Brady, I can't help but think that the NBA players are making a mistake by not seeking a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. Although the NFL players ultimately lost on the injunction issue at the Eighth Circuit, they were nevertheless able to convince the district court judge, as well as one of the three appellate judges, that a preliminary injunction lifting a lockout could issue under the Norris-LaGuardia Act. And even the majority of the Eighth Circuit panel believed that injunctive relief might be appropriate to temporarily lift the lockout for at least a segment of the players (i.e., those not currently under contract with an NFL team). Therefore, there is a legitimate chance that a different judge (and perhaps a panel of the Ninth Circuit) would be willing to grant the NBA players preliminary injunctive relief preventing the NBA owners from continuing their lockout.

Given this possibility, I don't see why the NBA players wouldn't at least seek a preliminary injunction. A court order lifting the lockout would give the players perhaps the greatest bargaining leverage they could hope to achieve from a lawsuit against the owners. In turn, an injunction would provide players with the best chance of reaching a favorable resolution of the dispute in time to save at least part of the season. Meanwhile, the potential downside of seeking a preliminary injunction is minimal, since a refusal by the court would merely maintain the status quo.

Consequently, I don't understand the logic behind not seeking a preliminary injunction. What am I missing here?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column: Legal Implications of Jerry Sanduskys' Interview with Bob Costas

I have a new SI column on the Penn State scandal.  Here is an excerpt:
The problem with Sandusky's legal strategy is not only that a growing number of men independently charge that Sandusky raped them while they were children, but that also admitting to strange and lewd behavior with children would likely make jurors highly suspicious of him and more inclined to convict him of sexual assault. Put differently, it's hard to believe there is a merely a misunderstanding between Sandusky's recollection of the facts and that of the alleged victims when Sandusky freely admits to showing terrible judgment.

The interview also reflects poorly on Penn State. Sandusky admitted to behavior that was far from discreet and was sure to attract the attention of others. Along those lines, did no one at Penn State find it disconcerting that Sandusky was showering with boys? Did any school official notice any unusual "touching" by Sandusky? Joe Paterno's insistence that "we were all fooled" seems even more hollow after Sandusky's interview.
To read the rest of the column, click here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Follow the Money

Here's the question. Is the Penn State scandal a sports law issue or simply a criminal matter? Consider this scenario. A young muscular graduate student in Biology wanders into a lab and sees an aging Assistant Professor raping a ten year old boy. Is there any doubt the perpetrator, if aware he had been seen, would immediately stop, the witness would intervene, the cops would be called, the Professor would be put away, and the University and its President would not be implicated in the least?

Why did that not occur here? Only one answer: the money generated by the plantation system known as the NCAA. For Penn State that is 100 million dollars, 75 million in football revenue and 25 million in assorted generic memorabilia like sweatshirts mostly attributed to the football program.

One telling fact that has not been given much attention. Look at the chain of command that failed miserably in this case. McQuery tells Paterno the coach. He tells Curley the Athletic Director. Who does he tell? Gary Schultz. His title? Vice President of Business and Finance. Among the many unanswered questions, who else knew? Typically the AD must report any potentially troubling incidents to the Conference Commissioner. Did Curley do that here? If not, why not?

UPDATE from Mike McCann: Below are some excellent comments responding to my Facebook post on Follow the Money:

Mark McKenna [Notre Dame Law Professor] 
 Is there any doubt the grad student would intervene? Absolutely there is. There has been way too much of the "this is because it was football." if anyone doesn't think a grad student dependent on a star faculty member for his future might have acted just like McQuery did, they are kidding themselves. And kidding oneself this way is dangerous because it allows all of us off the hook too easily by making this seem like a problem of some "other" culture.

Afi Johnson-Parris  [Attorney in Greensboro, North Carolina]
Is it too much to expect that he would have had even an ounce of courage to make a noise from the shadows, flicked the lights, called out "is anyone there?," something, anything to make it stop, anything but walking away. How do you just walk away? I agree, that has less to do with football than it does to do with courage. Funny, they're always saying that courage is what football is about.

Mark McKenna 
No, Afi, clearly it's not too much to ask. I wasn't in any way making an excuse for him. I was only pointing out that lots of people have made themselves feel better about this situation by pretending that this is just something about the culture of some institution rather than a sad, but universal, fact about human beings. They protect themselves and the institutions they believe in first. See also, the Catholic Church.

Michael McCann 
Not that this would have likely stopped what happened at Penn State, but I think a better model to college sports would be for there to be an independent branch of a school, sort of like an independent federal agency that's to some extent insulated from the executive branch, that regulates the athletic departments. It may moderate the "winning at all costs, everything else be damned" approach we see at too many schools. In terms of Mark and Afi's larger points, I agree that this story is about much more than why persons in a big time sports program respond so poorly to a fellow human in crisis. It also says, as Mark notes, that allegiance to institutions too often trumps allegiance to basic morality. Perhaps it also says that instead of these persons lacking humanity it's that humanity is less than what we expect or hope for.

Mark McKenna
I can't bring myself to "like" your last post, Mike, but the last sentence is right on.

Alan Milstein 
Mark, I just have to disagree. I do not think it is the norm for someone to not do anything when confronted by an old man raping a ten year old boy. Even if it is a superior, you would have to believe in an academic setting the grad student would believe the chairman of the department and everyone else would come down hard on the offender. Mainly because there is nothing to lose. That's the difference here. There was something to lose if they didn't cover it up. Millions of dollars. Incredibly, all they did was take away his locker room privileges, presumably so he could do his business elsewhere just not in the Penn State locker room.

Mark McKenna 
No, I wouldn't believe that people would act differently in another academic setting. People act selfishly whenever there is a lot for them to lose. There is a ton to lose when a graduate student reveals something about a supervisor they depend on (and grad students depend enormously on their advisors). There is a ton to lose when speaking up would force you to confront the failures of an institution you believe in. The statistics on abuse are staggering, and they couldn't be even remotely right if you were right that people generally speak up and stop things. They don't. I guarantee you that there has been undisclosed abuse in virtually any organization. This is not an apology - it's absolutely the wrong thing. But I think we delude ourselves by pretending it couldn't happen in our own back yard.

Jason Chung For me, the fact that people some people honestly say that they would have also walked away or merely alerted their superior when confronted with a similar situation is the greatest indictment of our culture.

Alan Milstein And your analogy to the Catholic Church doesn't help your point. The same forces are at work. But outside of such institutions like Penn State and the Catholic Church, where most of us reside, I have to believe most people would do the right thing and stop the brutalization. It's a ten year old boy, for God's sake. People by and large are good not bad, moral not immoral, caring not uncaring.

Mark McKenna I wish it were so, Alan. But I don't think it is. If you want to exclude all the institutions because the same forces are at work, then I think you have a long list to exclude. And that's my point.

Jason Chung
Mark, I understand your point - in today's society where everyone is looking to get ahead, there is sometimes tension between doing the right thing and doing what seems right for you personally. Sometimes, people do the latter instead of the former. Understood. However, I think that Alan's point is that the cult of big-money sports amplifies what we would consider "acceptable" in the realm of distasteful things one would tolerate. I'm not sure that I entirely agree with that assessment but I do acknowledge that sports, and particularly collegiate sports, has more than a fair whiff of an insular, old boys network feel to it where omerta and misguided "loyalty" is preferable to decency. I'd normally make an analogy or example trying to illustrate this point but, frankly, this entire issue is so beyond the pale, it makes me sick. This equalizer is this - At least, we, the fans, don't have to accept it. Stay vigilant, make noise, keep those responsible (and those who enabled) accountable.

Alan Milstein
This story is just beginning. The cover up has yet to be uncovered.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New York University School of Law Sports Law Panel on College Athletics

Next Monday - November 14 - NYU Law will host a sports law panel on college athletics from 4 to 6 p.m. at 40 Washington Square South.

Sports Law Blog contributor Alan Milstein -- who I hear will have some provocative commentary about the NCAA and treatment of college athletes to share with the audience -- will be joined by other terrific panelists.

Here's the group:

* Craig Esherick - former head coach of the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team and head of the Sports Management program at George Mason (also a lawyer)

* Alan Milstein - nationally-recognized sports litigator (has represented Allen Iverson, Eddy Curry, Allen Houston, Richard Hamilton, Maurice Clarett and others in litigation matters) and co-managing shareholder of Sherman Silverstein Kohl Rose & Podolsky

* Dr. Constance Zotos, former Athletic's Director of Drew University

* Seth Wickersham, writer for ESPN The Magazine

* Professor Robert Boland from the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies will be moderating the discussion.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two posts on Penn State

I have two posts on the Penn State mess over at Prawfs. I thought I'd link to them, rather than reposting.

Here, I question what the students were protesting about at Penn State last night and what they are thinking in objecting to Paterno's firing in this circumstance. Here, I question the use of the word "technicality" to describe a likely argument from the indicted Penn State officials that in 2002 they had no obligation to report a second-hand report of child molestation.

Feel free to post comments there or here.

University of Mississippi School of Law Sports Law Symposium (this Friday 11/11/11)

I will be speaking, presenting my latest law review piece dealing with Social Media and the NCAA, this Friday, November 11th at the law school at Ole Miss. I will have a draft up on my SSRN page soon, tentatively titled: Student-Athlete.O – Regulation of Student-Athletes’ Social Media Use: a Guide to Avoiding NCAA Sanctions and Related Litigation. See below for the official invite:

"The Mississippi Sports Law Review would like to invite you to its inaugural sports law symposium. The symposium will take place on Friday, November 11th at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Lunch will be served at Noon and the symposium will begin at 1 p.m. The symposium will address the issue of Social Media and Intercollegiate Athletics, and will be accompanied by an issue of the Review to be released later in the winter.
The following authors will present their articles at the symposium:

John T. Wendt & Peter C. Young – Reputational Risk and Social Media

Jerry Parkinson – Impact of Social Media on NCAA Infractions Cases

Mary Margaret “Meg” Penrose – Free Speech versus Free Education: First Amendment Considerations in Limiting Student Athletes’ Use of Social Media

Timothy Liam Epstein - Student-Athlete.O – Regulation of Student-Athletes’ Social Media Use: a Guide to Avoiding NCAA Sanctions and Related Litigation"

We hope you can make it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Sports Illustrated Column: Did Joe Paterno Break the law???

Joe Paterno is out as head coach of Penn State.  I have a new column for Sports Illustrated on the possibility he will face criminal charges and tort claims.  Here's an excerpt:

* * *
These inconsistencies related to Paterno's and McQueary's statements about "Victim 2" in the grand jury's statement of facts. According to the grand jury's findings of fact, McQueary detailed how in 2002 he saw a naked Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the showers in the Penn State football locker room. McQueary also testified that he told Paterno what he saw the following day, though it isn't clear from McQueary's testimony how explicit he was in his description to Paterno.
After hearing from McQueary, Paterno alerted athletic director Tim Curley. Yet instead of relaying what McQueary claims to have told him, Paterno conveyed a milder and vaguer description. Specifically, Paterno testified under oath that McQueary had said that Sandusky was engaged in fondling or "doing something of a sexual nature" to a boy.

To be sure, the phrase "doing something of a sexual nature" technically includes forcibly subjecting a child to anal intercourse, meaning Paterno may have been more evasive than untruthful. Then again, Paterno's hazy choice of words could encompass a band of sexual acts, from raping a 10-year-old boy to inappropriately touching or patting a child, that ranges too widely in heinousness to be deemed consistent with McQueary's allegedly more specific statements. The phrase unnecessarily imports ambiguity and generality where none had existed, and dubiously invites the listener -- Curley -- to assign a lack of severity to the incident. From that lens, Paterno appears to have told Curley a different account than what McQueary had told him.
* * *
To read the rest, click here.

Off Pitch: What Glee Can Teach Us About College Athletics

In trying to explain the issues within college athletics to my 15 year old daughter, I realized an analogy might make sense. What better way to connect than by referencing Glee.

I posted the following essay on the Huffington Post, which uses Glee to describe many of the issues in college sports.

Let me know what you think of this LIGHTHEARTED attempt.

[Also, before I get the hate email, I recognize that in reality, those competing in drama and glee clubs around the country would overwhelmingly jump at the opportunities of the top student-athletes within the sports of football and men's basketball.]

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Understanding the NBA Players' Decertification Strategy

Mike wrote about this topic last week for Sports Illustrated, and I now have a new column up over at the Huffington Post analyzing the complicated web of legal issues raised by the potential decertification of the NBA Players Association. Here's an excerpt. You can find the full column here.

If the players go forward with the decertification petition, is the 2011-2012 season completely lost?
Not necessarily. Although antitrust litigation is painfully slow, expensive, and unpredictable, the mere threat of decertification followed by antitrust litigation might cause the owners to move at the bargaining table. In other words, the owners might be willing to make concessions at the bargaining table to avoid the inherent uncertainty of antitrust litigation. Of course, decertification might have the opposite effect. The owners, wary of setting a precedent of caving at the bargaining table when the players threaten to decertify, might dig in their heels even further and call the players' decertification bluff. This could lead to the ultimate lose-lose situation--the NBA season is cancelled while the NBA owners fight the NBA players in court.
Assuming the mere threat of decertification/litigation is not enough to move the owners, the NBPA could (while the players are waiting for the decertification election) disclaim interest in representing the players. Disclaimer would permit the players to file their antitrust suit immediately. The NBA owners would argue that any such lawsuit must be heard in NY, so the players could either file in NY (unlikely) or file in another jurisdiction and engage in a legal battle to allow them to choose where the case is heard (more likely).
Even if it gets all the way to an actual decertification vote, the season isn't necessarily lost. It is possible--although a lot of things would have to go right for the players for this to occur--that the players are able to vote to decertify and file an antitrust in late December and get a court to issue a temporary restraining order blocking the lockout by early January. That's a bit of a long shot, but it's possible, and the mere possibility of it could be enough to convince enough of the owners to make a deal to avoid that outcome.


I write this with some trepidation. So I'm going to begin with a disclaimer: I am not trying to suggest anything about what is right or wrong or what should be treated as right or wrong. I just want to think about how we treat certain speech. Please keep that in mind in any responses. OK, I just set myself up for some very high (or low) expectations, so here we go.

Steve Williams is a professional golf caddy who worked for Tiger Woods  for more than a decade (earning a lot of money, as well as a reputation as being Woods' overbearing bodyguard/hitman on the course). Woods unceremoniously fired Williams last summer, a move over which Williams is still just a bit bitter. Williams caught on with a golfer named Adam Scott (who himself has a rivalry and tension with Tiger); Scott won a tournament earlier this year, after which Williams preened and called it the greatest victory of his life. Over the weekend, at a caddie celebration dinner, Williams explained "I wanted to shove it up that black arsehole."  Word of what Williams said at the closed, "off-the-record" event quickly got out. Williams issued a typical famous-person denial by the next morning, saying "I apologize for comments I made last night . . . I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist. However, I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologize to Tiger and anyone else I've offended."

Williams is being criticized for making a "racist" remark and he used that term in his sort-of apology. But should his remark be considered racist and why or why not? Do they suggest he is racist? Or are the remarks, and therefore Williams, just stupid?

The upshot is that Williams is in trouble for using a bad modifier. Had he simply called Woods an "arsehole," people would have thought Williams was an obnoxious ass, but not racist. Same thing had he called Woods a "cheating arsehole" (in reference to Woods widely reported infidelity) or a "sex-addict arsehole" (in reference to Woods reportedly seeking treatment for sex addiction) or "washed-up arsehole" (in reference to Woods struggles on the golf course). But Williams mentioned, in a purely descriptive way, the unquestioned fact that Woods is (part) black. And the narrative is that this modifier made his comments, and perhaps him, racis. Indeed, Williams' apology was all about his own state of mind--that he did not have racist intent in what he said and therefore is not racist.

But Williams did not use a racial slur. He did not attribute his dislike of, or anger at, Woods to Woods' being black (as opposed to being an arsehole). He did not make a statement about what type of person Woods is because of his race. He did not suggest Woods is inferior or incapable because of his race. He did not make a comment grounded in any racial stereotypes (compare when another golfer was criticized for joking about Augusta National serving soul food at the tournament dinner after Woods won the Masters). Williams made an observation and stated a fact--Woods is black. He also is, in Williams' view, an arsehole. And, therefore . . .
So that has been the change in our discourse: We have made the mention of race (along with other characteristics, such as ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.) improper even as a purely factual matter when criticizing someone. You can call someone a #$*&% with relative impunity; you no longer can call him a [Race/Gender/Ethnicity/Religion] #$*&%. And doing so tags the speaker as racist.

My best guess at a justification is that because race is (or should be) irrelevant to our opinion of someone, mentioning race serves no purpose. Thus, mentioning it, even as a factual modifier, calls attention to the target's status as a member of a minority or historically weak or disempowered group. The use of the modifier highlights the target's "otherness" or singleness in society. Williams would not have called a white golfer a "white arsehole", because emphasizing whiteness does not call up that otherness. Racializing the insult makes that insult worse by calling up and highlighting that otherness, even if that otherness is merely a descriptive modifier and not the heart of the insult. Or maybe the explanation is slightly different: Because race is irrelevant, anyone who mentions actually is using it as the basis of the opinion. In other words, Williams dislikes Woods because of his race (and not because of his arseholeness), otherwise he wouldn't have mentioned it.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough that I am not defending what Williams said or did. I only am trying to consider how and why we characterize the act a certain way.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Live from New York it's . . . the NBA Lockout

I've been covering the NBA lockout for NBA TV the last couple of days in the Sheraton Hotel on 53rd and 7th avenue in NYC, where the meetings have been held.  Here are a couple of videos: Primer on Decertification and Reaction to failed meetings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Call for Papers: Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law

The Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law is soliciting articles from students, legal academics and practitioners for our Spring 2012 Issue. All sports, entertainment or intellectual property related submissions are welcome. Submissions should be no more than 15,000 words. We encourage authors to incorporate legal analysis as well as policy recommendations into their article. Please send submissions to jselsubmissions@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New Column: Why Decertification could doom 2011-12 NBA Season

Here's an excerpt of my new column for SI on the growing desire of certain NBA players -- and their agents -- to decertify the union and sue the NBA on antitrust grounds. Could mean the cancellation of the 2011-12 NBA season:
In terms of its legal arguments, the NBA may be poised to offer more persuasive reasoning for the legality of its lockout than the NFL could muster for its own lockout. One key factor in a legal analysis of whether a lockout should be enjoined is the irreparable harm to the locked out employees. Unlike NFL players, who had nowhere else to play professional football during the lockout and some of whom would have never returned to the NFL had the 2011 season been canceled, some NBA players have already signed lucrative contracts with teams in foreign basketball leagues. The NBA can maintain that if players can sign to play abroad, then a lockout will not cause their professional basketball careers irreparable harm (or at least will cause much less harm than NFL players suffered/would have suffered). In response, the players would likely contend that playing abroad, and living in a foreign country (and possibly relocating one's family there), constitutes a materially different experience than having an NBA career and living in a U.S. city. Plus, many NBA players have not been able to find roster spots abroad.

The NBA also boldly demands that if the union decertifies in a way endorsed by a court, the league should be able to declare all player contracts void and unenforceable. The league insists that because the Uniform Player Contract (signed by every NBA player) is contained in and governed by the collective bargaining agreement, player contracts should become void once the collective bargaining relationship between the league and players ends. In response, the players can argue that the dissolution of a union should not empower an employer to void contracts between individual employees and the employer. If the NBA ultimately prevails in its argument on player contracts, players would collectively stand to lose billions of dollars. It would also throw the league and its franchises in an uncertain state, with every player, save for those drafted in 2011 and who haven't signed contracts, becoming a free agent.
To read the rest, click here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Column: Why Dodgers Deal is a Victory for Bud Selig

Here's an excerpt of my new column for SI on Frank McCourt agreeing to the sale of team:

* * *

The ability of Selig to take over the Dodgers and effectively kick out its owner will not go unnoticed by the 29 other ownerships groups. The message to them is clear: They better run their businesses profitably or the commissioner can, at his discretion, intervene.

The Dodgers, moreover, are far from the only franchise that has experienced financial difficulties in recent months. New York Mets' owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, defending against a massive lawsuit brought by victims of Bernie Madoff, are likewise having problems. Almost one-third of the league, in fact, exhibits some level of difficultly in maintaining financial soundness: In June, the Los Angeles Times reported that nine franchises -- the Dodgers, Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals -- were in violation of the league's debt services rules. While it can be misleading to take a snapshot of teams' financial situation at any one time, and grouping nine teams together doesn't indicate that some are much worse off than others, a number of ownership groups do not appear to be keeping pace with league requirements. Given Selig's success in taking over the Dodgers, perhaps he will now feel emboldened to threaten other teams that they better get their acts together or they, too, risk league intervention.

MLB players are another interested party in the interplay between team finances and enforcement of league financial rules. Should teams become more fearful of league intervention, it is very plausible that some of those teams will spend less on player salaries and be less active in the free-agent market. More cautious spending by teams could have the effect of curbing salaries; if teams agree with one another to spend less, they open themselves up to charges of collusion. With MLB's collective bargaining agreement set to expire in a little over five weeks (Dec. 11), expect the topic of team finances and their relationship to player payroll to emerge as a key issue in CBA discussions.

* * *
To read the rest of the column, click here.

NBA age limit on the back burner

Maybe more so than any other topic, age limits in the NBA and NFL have been a focal point on this blog.  Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated reports that the current limit - 19 years old, plus (for U.S. players) one year removed from high school - is on the back burner in discussions between the NBA and the players.  Zach also cites the research of several of us.  Here is an excerpt:
The rule requiring American players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school before entering the NBA draft was once among the league’s hottest-button issues. The age limit, collectively bargained in 2005, has resulted in prominent one-and-done players such as Kevin Durant and John Wall spending a season as hyped-up college stars, building a brand and then entering the NBA as household names.

It’s not such a hot-button issue anymore, in part because the league decided years ago to stop talking about “maturity” and amateurism and the alleged “ethical issues” of 18-year-olds earning millions to play basketball. League and team officials talk now of the age limit as good business, a rule that makes players famous before they enter the league, gooses interest in the draft and spares teams the expense of paying scouts to attend high school games where NBA candidates destroy inferior competition.

That’s smart, because it’s hard to find one shred of evidence that the age limit helps the affected players have better pro careers. It has been seven years since Michael McCann, a law professor and SI.com contributor, found that players who came straight from high school fared better — in terms of on-court contributions and off-court “behavior” — than players who attended college for any length. ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh confirmed the on-court part of McCann’s findings last week, and Ryan Rodenberg, a professor in the Sports Management department at Florida State, is working on an extended study for publication that he says will prove the same thing: that 18-year-olds who entered the draft have outperformed the average NBA player, and that the age limit simply keeps such players from earning money for another year.
 To read the rest, click here.

Violence and Aggression in Sports: An Economic Approach

Two years ago, The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology had a special issue devoted to "Sports and Criminal Law." Three articles were included - one by Jeffrey Standen, one by Geoffrey Rapp, and one co-authored by Janine Young Kim and Matthew Parlow. I read all three and learned a lot. Collectively, the articles looked at violence in sport from a decidedly legal perspective.

A new book edited by Todd Jewell (part of Springer's book series on sports economics, management, and policy edited by Dennis Coates) looks at violence and aggression in sports from an economic angle. The table of contents highlights the variety of sports and methodological approaches that are covered. Dave Berri and I co-authored a chapter in the book entitled "Crime and Punishment in the NBA." The abstract is below.

This chapter investigates the overlap between National Basketball Association (NBA) referees, the league’s on-court rule enforcers, and the impact of player violence and aggression on individual salary, team wins, and team revenue. The authors’ meta-analysis highlights emerging research on the role of referees in regulating the sport and describes systematic referee bias in connection with race, league profits, and social pressure in the literature. More narrowly, and in contrast to several high-profile media reports, the authors unearth little to no evidence of NBA referees being biased against specific players, coaches, or team owners. With personal fouls as a proxy for player-level aggression, the analysis finds that players who commit more fouls earn lower salaries and hurt their respective team’s chances of winning. Using the high-profile example of Shaquille O’Neal, the authors also demonstrate how O’Neal’s inability to make free throws had a detrimental impact on how many wins he helped produce for his team and a negative effect on his team’s revenue. Such results reveal the overlapping tension between the NBA’s player discipline protocol, efforts toward referee consistency, and certain marketing and public relation goals the league may have.

For an additional resource, see Mike McCann's 2005 study on the relationship between education level and arrest propensity of NBA players.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NBA TV Interview: Will the NLRB help end the lockout?

Earlier this evening I joined Steve Smith, Matt Winer and Brent Barry on NBA GameTime to discuss the latest in the NBA lockout and whether the NLRB could play a key role in resolving the dispute.

West Virginia Claims Big East Breached Fiduciary Duties

To try to escape from the Big East without waiting 27 months, West Virginia University has filed suit against the Big East Conference. The central claim in the lawsuit, which can be read here, is that the Big East breached fiduciary duties owed to West Virginia and other football schools.

The complaint itself is fairly vague in regard to the exact fiduciary duty the Conference is thought to have breached. A football conference is a joint venture, and its members presumably owe fiduciary duties to one another (though perhaps liability is limited by the terms of a Conference contract). The Conference staff owe fiduciary duties to the conference and arguably to its members.

Disloyalty runs counter to these fiduciary obligations. It seems as if West Virgnia believes that some disloyalty could be found. The complaint argues that the Conference put the interest of its non-football (read: basketball) members above the interests of its football members. The complaint also articulates what appear to be claims of violation of the duty of care. Here, a plaintiff has a tougher time, since a fiduciary only owes an obligation to act in a careful, competent, and diligent manner. See Restatement (Third) Agency Section 8.08. The whirlwind of conference realignment in recent weeks has created some fairly unusual circumstances, and the claim for carelessness on the part of the Conference seems a tough one.