Realigned and Reckoning
“College athletics is one of the last pure things,” said Roger Cossack, Pepperdine University School of Law Distinguished Visiting Professor and ESPN legal analyst, as he introduced the first of four panels assembled at the School of Law on April 5 for a conference about college sports. “You can root for your team, and root against the other team, but it’s pure joy.”
However, Cossack continued, that joy is under threat; college athletic programs need more money to compete at a high level, and every day, he said, it seems that the news headlines are filled with college athletic programs that are mired on controversy in one way or another.
“The New Normal in College Sports: Realigned and Reckoning” took place at the School of Law, Malibu, all day April 5 to address some of these issues, and more. Cohosted by the School of Law and the Pepperdine Law Review, the event featured four panel discussions with leading academics, university administrators, and practitioners in a variety of areas, including: a conversation with institutional leaders of major intercollegiate athletic programs; a consideration of the possibility of an antitrust exemption for the NCAA; the impact of conference realignment, digital media, broadcasting, and commercialization; and other emerging hot topics in college sports. In addition, Jeff Moorad, founder of Moorad Sports Management, provided the keynote address.
“The Pepperdine University School of Law has developed a very strong program in sports law and sports mediation and arbitration and our students just won one of the most prestigious competitions in this arena,” notes School of Law dean Deanell Reece Tacha. “This symposium was an opportunity for our students and many area lawyers to be engaged in cutting-edge thinking and legal issues in sports. Lawyers are employed in many aspects of sports at all levels.”
Topics discussed by the panels included legal liabilities of injuries sustained by student-athletes; Rod Smith—director of the Center for Sports Law and Policy and Distinguished Professor of Law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law—pointed out concussions, which could have academic consequences, account for 74 percent of injuries sustained by college football stars.
They also discussed infamous incidences that have made the news recently, including the Penn State Sandusky child-abuse cover-up scandal and Louisville Cardinals’ basketball star Kevin Ware’s horrifying leg break, which happened during a live, on-air match in March.