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While still a student at ASU Law, Sam Renaut (JD '11) advocated for the creation of a sports law and business program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Today, Renaut is the assistant director of ASU Law's Sports Law & Business (SLB) program. He works to develop and grow the program, including curriculum, professional development, and career services. Renaut officially joined the program in 2015.
Renaut works with students as a career advisor, helping to develop and implement independent studies and internships in the sports industry. He also helps to develop the ASU Online MLS in Sports Law degree program, teaches online courses in Sports Law, Professional Sports Law, and curates the Special Topics in the Sports Law course.
When not teaching and helping to run the program, Renaut serves as an NFL agent representing NFL players in their careers on and off the field, as well as NFL and collegiate football coaches. He also represents media and TV personalities in their contract negotiations. As an ASU Law student, he was the founding editor-in-chief of the Sports Law and Entertainment Journal.
In the following interview, Renaut discusses how he became interested in sports law and his work in helping to shape ASU Law’s SLB program.
What sparked your interest in sports law and business?
There is an allure to the sports industry that attracts people from all different walks of life. No matter one's background or status, sports are a source of inspiration, of acceptance, and community. But to really chase a career in sports requires far more than passionate fan-hood and a sense of belonging. Sports are an intersection of all parts of life, and it requires a deeper understanding of the industry if you want to find success. My interest was sparked at a young age growing up playing team and individual sports and watching collegiate and professional sports. I started to notice a stark difference between the events at the amateur and professional levels. I wanted to know more. So I began to study the industry both as an academic and a practical experience. I worked jobs that would give me as many perspectives as I could; as a journalist for high school, collegiate, and professional sports, as an account manager for a game day software solutions company, and as an intern in my college athletic department. I saw the galvanizing effect of the industry, and I saw the effect it had on people of all ages, races, genders, and backgrounds. I knew I was hooked, and I decided to come to law school to hone my skills and dive deeper into the sports world.
How did you become involved in the Sports Law & Business Program?
In a way, I was a catalyst for this program's conception. My first year of law school I brought together a group of students who all shared my interest in sports and entertainment law, and we put together a plan to build a sports law program at ASU Law. In 2009, we presented our ideas to the faculty and some local attorneys who wanted to get involved, and we were given the green light to start exploring the opportunities. We planned conferences, hosted speakers, held networking events, and designed elective courses related to the sports and entertainment industry. I also served as the founding editor in chief of the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal at ASU. As my initial group matriculated, we passed the torch to younger and similarly passionate students to continue to grow the foundation that we had laid. When Dean Sylvester announced in 2014 that we would be launching this program, I approached him within minutes asking how I could help. We came up with a plan for how I would contribute, and I was brought on as a part-time consultant almost immediately. From there, my role grew until I was asked to join full-time as the assistant director of the SLB Program. In this capacity, I fill a number of roles: external affairs, professional development, admissions recruiting, job placement, career counseling, professor of practice, internship supervisor, advisory board member, curriculum designer, and more.
What kind of feedback are you getting from students, the legal community, and the sports community?
The feedback has been nothing short of awesome and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. The positive responses from the students, our faculty, the legal community, and the sports community at large, both locally and nationally, have been incredible. We have been blown away by the number of people asking to get involved, approaching us with ideas for growth and expansion, and showing support by interacting with our students, attending and participating in events, providing projects and jobs for our students, and donating their time to offer counsel to our faculty and administration. We have a unique program. There is no other university, particularly one of our size and stature, offering a program like this one. Our peers are recognizing that, and students, faculty, and practitioners alike are flocking to Phoenix to see how we've accomplished it.
What makes Phoenix an ideal place to have this program?
Phoenix has everything you could possibly need to learn about the sports industry. The NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and WNBA all have franchises here. We have a semi-pro soccer club, an arena football team, MLB spring training, several PGA events, several NASCAR and IndyCar events, and we are the off-season training home of half the country's most elite athletes across all sports. Further, we are the only Tier 1 law school within 100 miles of one of the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. Arizona State University is known and heralded as the home of academic innovation, and this program embodies innovation in one of the world's largest and most competitive industries. The sports community in Phoenix is large, but tight-knit. The people here are knowledgeable, experienced, and, most importantly, accessible. Compared to larger markets such as Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, the Phoenix Valley offers as much in terms of job opportunities and learning experiences as any other city in the country, but without the cutthroat, every person for him or herself mentality. Those reasons alone make Phoenix ideal. When you add in the quality of our faculty, our partnership with the W. P. Carey School of Business and Sun Devil Athletics, and our role as disruptive innovators, it is obvious that Phoenix is the best place to offer this experience.