I attended the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA) Annual Conference last week in Atlanta, Georgia. For those unfamiliar with the conference, it is the largest and most prominent gathering of sports attorneys in the country. Lawyers from most major sports leagues, teams and organizations attend as well as agents and representatives of the NCAA.
Attendance was excellent, with approximately 700 attendees, including approximately 200 law students and the conference provided some excellent speakers. Here are some of the highlights and interesting takeaways from the conference:
- The concussion issue continues to grow on both legislative and litigation fronts. 47 states have enacted some type of concussion management law and the NFL is defending 224 concussion cases involving 4300 retired players. A neurologist who addressed the group also pointed out that the players who are less physically developed and do not compete professionally may have taken more hits than the superior players and also may be at risk.
- In an interesting panel on doping, Edwin Moses, the gold medal winning sprinter, provided perspective on the importance of getting it right during drug testing. Moses said that for drug test administrators, it is a job, but for the athletes it is a life.
- One of the most, if not the most, interesting panel focused on the ethical failures at Penn State University. ESPN’s Lester Munson said that Penn State officials were “supremely, arrogantly confident that their cover up of Sandusky’s horrors would be successful.” He also said that he expected death penalty for Penn State and thought they caught a break with the penalties that were imposed. The other panelists, Gene Marsh, Wallace Renfro and Allison Rich discussed the process that led to the expeditious resolution of the situation. They stressed that this was an unprecedented case with unprecedented facts and that led to an unprecedented action by the NCAA.
- Each year, the SLA gives to a local charity (at the conference location). This year the SLA made a donation to the charity run by former NFL player Warrick Dunn, which provides down-payment assistance for single-parent families who are becoming first-time homeowners ,among other things.
- Donald Dell, who wrote the book Never Make the First Offer (which is on the reading list for the Sports Law class that I teach at Quinnipiac Law School with Robert J. Romano) provided the keynote address. Dell’s first two clients: tennis legends Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith.
- The SLA held a student-writing competition this year, and gave out $10,000 in prize money. The first-place winner was Kaitlyn Kacsuta. Congratulations to Kaitlyn.
- Lastly, a few students that I met were Connecticut Sports Law readers. Thanks for reading!