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Oregon Law Summer Sports Institute


The Oregon Law Summer Sports Institute's comprehensive curriculum introduces aspiring sports lawyers to a broad range of legal topics relevant to the practice of sports law. healy (2)The Institute features a unique mix of classes, lectures and career panels, each led by experts in their respective fields. During this rigorous five-week program, students will immerse themselves in the wide world of sports law.

We understand, however, that not every student who is interested in learning about sports law will actually go on to practice sports law. With that in mind, we view sports law as a subset of business law. By using the sports industry as a case study, we believe we train not only the best sports lawyers, but the best business lawyers.

Curriculum Overview

Week 1

Sports in the Context of Law  (2 sessions)

This course introduces the main topics and themes that characterize sports law. By focusing on tensions that are felt within the dual worlds of amateur and professional sports, it provides a framework for understanding and connecting all the other topics considered over the summer. Taught by Professor Illig of Oregon Law.

Economics of Sports  (4 sessions)

This course introduces and examines the business of sports from a financial viewpoint.  Which is bigger, Nike or the Seattle Seahawks?  By how much?  How are sports teams valued?  And what about the transfer market?  These and other topics are used to place the sports industry within the context of the larger economy and to uncover for future lawyers their sports clients’ financial goals and stressors. Taught by Professor Rascher of USF School of Business.

Interscholastic Sports  (2 sessions)

High school and youth sports are generally dominated by state actors.  As a result, legal disputes among amateur athletes frequently pose constitutional issues.  This course explores the basis for determining whether a youth sports organization qualifies as a state actor, as well as the implications of such status for the athlete’s rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Taught by Professor Illig of Oregon Law.

Bonus Lecture: Stadium Finance

This lecture examines the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings related to the Portland Trail Blazers' Rose Garden Arena as a window into the nature and challenges of stadium finance. Presented by a sitting Federal Bankruptcy Judge.

Documentary Film: Broke (30 for 30)

“Director Billy Corben (The U, Cocaine Cowboys, Limelight) paints a complex picture of the many forces that drain athletes’ bank accounts, placing some of the blame on the culture at large while still holding these giants accountable for their own hubris. A story of the dark side of success, ‘Broke,’ is an allegory for the financial woes haunting economies and individuals all over the world.” – ESPN

Week 2

Race and Gender in Sports  (4 sessions)

The history and evolution of sports in the United States are intertwined with issues of race and gender. This course examines the impact of Title IX as well as the law’s response to racial and gender-based discrimination in sports. Taught by Professor Davis of Wake Forest.

NCAA Regulation  (4 sessions)

University athletics’ compliance with the NCAA’s nearly 500-page rulebook has grown into a significant practice area for sports lawyers. This course will provide an overview of compliance issues, with special focus on federal and state limitations to the NCAA’s authority. Taught by Professor Professor Illig of Oregon Law.

Bonus Lecture: NCAA Reform Movement

In this lecture, the former chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions will explore the status and trajectory of the ongoing reform of the university-athlete relationship.  Of special interest will be recent attempts to unionize and pay revenue-sport athletes. Presented by Professor Potuto of Nebraska.

Special Panel Discussion:  The Legacy of Title IX

A panel of distinguished former athletes, coaches, and athletic directors will discuss the impact that Title IX has had on women’s equality.

Documentary Film: Schooled

“Based on the widely read Atlantic article The Shame of College Sports, by historian Taylor Branch, the film aims to push the increasingly apparent tensions and moral dilemmas permeating money, student welfare and academics in college sports even further into the public consciousness.” – Inside Higher Ed

Week 3

Sports and Antitrust Law  (4 sessions)

This course considers the growth and expansion of professional sports leagues together with the antitrust law challenges presented by rival leagues and errant team owners. Also at issue will be the antitrust implications of the NCAA’s near-monopoly on college sports. Taught by Professor Feldman of Tulane.

Sports and Labor Law  (4 sessions)

This course considers the many labor and employment law issues that complicate a talent-based industry like sports. Taught by Professor Duru of American University.

Bonus Lecture: Sports and PEDs

This lecture addresses the unique and troubling challenges posed by performance-enhancing drugs at both the amateur and professional levels. Presented by Professor Feldman of Tulane.

Documentary Film: Once in a Lifetime

“Giddy, gossipy and endearingly unslick, ‘Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos’ chronicles the rise and fall of the most famous soccer team in the United States with slapdash glee. Via newsreels and interviews (both winking and candid) we watch a ragtag team of part-time players move from a scrubby field that had to be spray-painted green before games to a 1977 North American Soccer League championship playoff.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

Documentary Film: Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (30 for 30)

“In 1983 the upstart United States Football League (USFL) had the audacity to challenge the almighty NFL. The new league did the unthinkable by playing in the spring and plucked three straight Heisman Trophy winners away from the NFL. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, Academy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning director Mike Tollin, himself once a chronicler of the league, will showcase the remarkable influence of those three years on football history and attempt to answer the question, ‘Who Killed the USFL?’” – ESPN

Week 4

Sports and Antitrust Law, continued  (2 sessions)

Sports and Labor Law, continued  (2 sessions)

Sports and Tax Law  (2 sessions)

This course considers the special tax aspects of players’ and coaches’ contracts, as well as tax issues implicated by the non-profit status of most sports leagues. Presented by Professor Mann of Oregon Law.

Health and Safety in Sports  (2 sessions)

This course explores the role of criminal law and torts in athletics. Special attention will be given to on- and off-field player violence as well as the so-called “baseball rule” of tort liability. Taught by Professor Paris of Oregon Law.

Bonus Lecture: Sexual Violence and Sports Culture

This lecture adresses the unfortunate prevalence of rape and domestic abuse among high-profile athletes, including well-known cases like OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson, and Jovan Belcher. Presented by Professor Weiner of Oregon Law.

Workshop: Negotiation in the Context of Sports

This full-day workshop will introduce students to the world of sports negotiation through the use of simulations and hands-on excercises. Led by Oregon Law's award-winning Appropriate Dispute Resolution faculty.

Documentary Film: The Two Escobars

“’The Two Escobars’ is a riveting examination of the intersection of sports, crime, and politics. For Colombians, soccer was far more than a game: their entire national identity rode on the success or failure of their team. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s fast and furious documentary plays out on an ever-expanding canvas, painting a fascinating portrait of a country in the grips of a violent, escalating civil war.” – David Ansen, Los Angeles Film Festival

Week 5

International Sports Law  (4 sessions)

This course considers the relationship between the regulation of American athletes by US authorities and the rules and requirements of international competitions like the Olympics, World Cup, and Tour de France. Taught by Professor Weston of Pepperdine.

Sports and Intellectual Property  (4 sessions)

This course examines intellectual property issues relevant to professional and amateur sports, including the marketing and branding of athletics and the use (and misuse) of images. It argues that the sports industry is really a subset of the larger entertainment industry. Taught by Professor Priest of Oregon Law.

Special Panel Discussion:  Agent Contracts

A panel of distinguished sports lawyers, former athletes, and UO football staff will discuss the unique challenges posed by the athlete-agent relationship.

Documentary Film: The Last Gladiators

“Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney takes an unprecedented look at the National Hockey League’s most feared enforcers. The role was simple: protect your teammates no matter the cost. Through interviews with hockey’s toughest guys, the film explores what it means to enforce the unspoken code of the NHL.” – Snagfilms

Documentary Film: Branded

“Sports is supposed to be the ultimate level playing field, but in the media and on Madison Avenue, sometimes looks matter more than accomplishments. This film explores the double standard placed on female athletes to be the best players on the field and the sexiest off of it.” – ESPN

Apply today!

Disclaimer: The exact details of the curriculum and teaching faculty may be updated from time to time and without notice as we finalize arrangements for the summer.

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