Labor and Sports Take Center Stage at Seton Hall Sports Law Symposium

Mar 10, 2023

Seton Hall University Law School held its third annual Sports Law Symposium, taking advantage of some of the technological innovations necessitated by the Covid pandemic, with four discussions held virtually via Teams on Wednesday afternoon, February 15, and followed with four more in-person panels on Thursday morning February 16, at the law school’s Newark, N.J. campus.

For those two days of panels, discussions focused on Sports in Time of Change and featured 26 different nationally known speakers, all of whom shared their perspectives on the changing nature of sports. The discussions were moderated by Seton Hall Law School faculty, administrators, and students, who are part of the law school’s new Gaming, Hospitality, Entertainment & Sports Law (GHamES) Initiative, which sponsored the Symposium. The GHamES Initiative allows Seton Hall Law students to pursue a certificate in these timely and interrelated subjects. The program was created to build on Seton Hall Law’s strength as a thought-leader in each of these fields.

Over 140 participants attended one or more of the sessions of the Symposium, which was approved to offer 8 total continuing legal education credits, 6 general credits and one additional credit each in the difficult to find categories of diversity, inclusion & elimination of bias and ethics by the State of New Jersey Bar Association CLE accreditors.

Highlights of the first day included, former National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Executive Director and current Seton Hall Stillman School of Business professor, Charles Grantham, and former National Basketball Association (NBA) vice president and general counsel, Jeff Mishkin, together engaging in a lively conversation on whether the lessons they learned in their labor battles in the 1980s and 1990s that resulted in the creation of the NBA’s salary cap and revenue sharing provisions might be applicable to the present challenges facing collegiate athletics. While Grantham and Mishkin, who was also outside counsel to the NCAA in several of its most recent cases from Murphy to Alston, did not agree on a solution, the respect these two longtime professional foes share for each other was evident.

Wednesday’s second panel on the present and future of pro football featured former NY Jets and Miami Dolphins vice president and current ESPN football insider, Mike Tannenbaum, as well as Brad Sohn, a leading attorney representing players seeking damages for injuries suffered while playing, and Tisha Thompson, the ESPN investigative reporter who co-authored the revelations around the culture of the Washington football franchise and its own Daniel Snyder. This discussion took a surprising turn when the subject of Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin came up. Thompson, who has reported on commotio cordis, shared that her work has led to the creation of a foundation to help protect against future occurrences through the mandated presence of automated external defibrillator (AED) devices on field at youth sports.

The day’s final group panel, on opportunity and equity for women in sports, included unique insights from a diverse group of speakers, of particular note was Lisa Meyers, associate general counsel at the Golden State Warriors and a Seton Hall Law School graduate speaking on her own winding path and the many mentors, male and female who supported her along that journey.

The first day came to a close with the always fascinating Tom McMillen, former NBA star, former Congressman and now President of LEAD1, suggesting that, despite what courts have ruled, there may be affection and room for a college sports model that falls somewhere between a fully professionalized one and the current one and that he sees potential for incoming NCAA Executive Director, former Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, to strike a consensus on that issue.

The second day which featured in-person panels, had an interesting start with several counsels working in sports speaking in greater depth on SafeSport concerns and investigations into integrity and behavior than perhaps was anticipated. The panelists emphasized the importance of these newly developing areas. This panel also welcomed back another Seton Hall Law graduate, NHL Vice President for Innovation Paul LaCaruba, and featured the conference’s co-chair, second year law student, Amber Osterbrink, as moderator.

The next panel on the changing role of collegiate athletic leadership produced a fascinating give-and-take on the timeless aspects of the athletic director’s role and changing ones brought about by growing financial pressures and business concerns. The consensus of the panelists including: Tennessee’s legendary women’s athletic director emeritus, Joan Cronan; Columbia athletic director, Peter Pilling; LEAD1’s COO & general counsel, Bart Lambergman; Ivy League Executive Director, Robin Harris; Seton Hall University Senior Woman Administrator, Tatum Colitz; and Shumaker partner, Bennett Speyer, all detailed some of these increasing costs and spiraling salaries. It wasn’t until later in the discussion that NIL was even mentioned. The main emphasis of this panel was the role of the modern athletic director as a position that is always changing even if the values and reasons for doing are remaining constant.

Assistant Dean Devon Corneal, who leads the GHamES Initiative, interviewed OneTeam Partners’ Managing Director and Chief Legal Officer, Tim Slavin. OneTeam Partners, the innovative joint venture between major players associations to market player licensed products was only one of the many subjects Slavin shared with attendees. He  further connected with the students in the audience discussing his own path to an extraordinary career in sports law.

The final panel featured five New York and New Jersey area sports law professors, assembled, and moderated by new Seton Hall Sports Law professor, Robert Boland. The panelists broke down the many ethical dilemmas sports cause lawyers to grapple with both inside the sports industry and as fans and observers.

With the approval of the concentration as well as through the GHamES Initiative, Seton Hall Law hopes to continue regular programming for its students, attorneys, and the industry sectors it serves along with its larger annual events. Next up for Seton Hall Law and GHamES is its annual Gaming Law Compliance & Integrity Bootcamp on March 6 & 7. For more information visit:

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