Miami Law offered a week-long course exploring current legal challenges in intercollegiate athletics co-taught by a number of executives from the National Collegiate Athletic Association during the week of Monday, January 22nd. The primary instructor of the course was Oliver Luck, the Executive Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the NCAA.
The course, “Intercollegiate Athletics: Law, Policy, and Regulatory Landscape,” challenged students to identify and discuss complex legal issues within intercollegiate athletics from a critical perspective. Topics discussed included health and safety of student-athletes, student-athlete eligibility issues, and the legal implications of the use of athletes’ names, images, and likenesses.
“The objective of the course from my perspective was to give the students, in a relatively short time, a little bit of an overview of the legal issues, the legal challenges facing college athletics,” Luck said. “The idea being that you take the 8 or 9 hours that they were in class lectures and give a sense of what it would be like if they worked for intercollegiate athletics, whether it’s on a campus, or at a conference, or in the national office, or elsewhere.”
Oliver Luck is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions as a three-year starting quarterback for the Mountaineers in the 1980’s. He earned a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, graduating cum laude in 1987, after which he accepted a fellowship to study the European Union and its legal system in Germany. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Luck has served as the president and CEO of NFL Europe, and also oversaw two Major League Soccer Cup victories with the Houston Dynamo as the team’s first president. He worked as West Virginia University’s Director of Athletics from 2010 to 2014 before joining the NCAA.
Joining Luck in the course were his fellow NCAA executives: Jon Duncan, VP of Enforcement; Jennifer Henderson, Managing Director of Academic and Membership Affairs; and Naima Stevenson, Managing Director of Academic and Membership Affairs/Deputy General Counsel.
Also assisting was Peter Carfagna, a Visiting Professor and Director of Miami Law's Sports Law Track in the LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law program. He is also a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the CEO of Magis, LLC, a privately owned sports marketing, management and investment company.
The course culminated in a series of group presentations for which the students, using what they had learned throughout the week, were asked to maintain and justify a position in favor of or against the court’s decision in O’Bannon v. NCAA, a 2014 case which held that the NCAA's long-held practice of barring payments to athletes violated antitrust laws. Students presented their arguments to a “court” with Luck and Carfagna acting as judges.
“I hope they can walk out of it, maybe not with a deep understanding, but at least a pretty good view of what college athletics looks like and the legal challenges that it faces,” Luck said.