ASU Law gathers powerful lineup for sports law and business conference

By

Karen Sung

A diverse panel of high-profile business and legal experts from across the sports world will be speaking at a Nov. 30 conference presented by the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

Hosted by ASU Law’s Sports Law and Business Program, the conference will take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix, in the W. P. Carey Foundation Armstrong Great Hall. It will feature three panel discussions:

• Business and Legal Issues in College Sports
• Business and Legal Issues in Professional Sports
• Globalization of Sport: International Interest in American Sports

Sports Law and Business Director Glenn Wong said the conference aligns with the program’s broad focus.

“Since our students come from a variety of educational backgrounds and are interested in a wide range of sports career paths, we aim to provide them with the expertise and experience of a diverse group of industry-leading practitioners,” he said. “Our hope is that no student's individual interests go underserved or unmentored as we develop them into the next generation of leaders.”

The conference panelists will be:

Kevin Blue, director of athletics for the University of California, Davis
Mike Gallagher, co-founding partner of Phoenix law firm Gallagher & Kennedy
Robin Harris, executive director of the Ivy League
John Martin, managing director for NASCAR Digital
Bernadette McGlade, commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference
Lou Melendez, a consultant to the Major League Baseball Players Association
David Palanzo, senior vice president, legal and business affairs, for the Women’s Tennis Association
Jeff Price, chief commercial officer for PGA of America
Debbie Spander, senior vice president for broadcasting and coaching at Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent-management company
Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency

As ASU Law lecturer Stephanie Jarvis says, the Sports Law and Business Program program is designed to broaden students’ horizons and introduce them to a variety of careers from a multitude of amateur and professional sports. And that’s reflected in the diversity of the panel.

“I think that’s one of the really good things about our program,” Jarvis said. “We teach a careers class talking to students about different careers in sports, and we open up their minds to things that are more than the traditional ideas, like being a GM of an NFL team, or a sports agent or an athletic director. We want to show them that there are a lot of different avenues to work in sports. So, that’s NASCAR, that’s tennis, that’s from the brand side, working for a corporate sponsor on the activation side. We want to teach them that there are a lot of different ways to work in sports.”

One of the conference’s panelists, Robin Harris, spoke about that broad view of the sports world, and how important it is for students to gather as much information as possible about a number of potential careers. When she was a student, she sought out informational interviews with as many sports executives as she could find — using all her contacts, including friends of friends.

“That gave me an opportunity to evaluate a lot of different careers and ask myself, ‘Is that a job I would want to do?’” she said. “I found out that college athletics really resonated with me.”

That process helped guide her to where she is today, the executive director of the Ivy League, and she urges students interested in sports law or business to put a priority on gaining experience.

“To get experience while they’re in school is really important,” she said. “To get experience in a broad cross-section of areas and try to figure out where their interests are and develop an area of expertise. And also be aware that athletics — college athletics in particular — is very interconnected, so every time you meet someone, you need to do your best work.”

Wong said the gathering of such a distinguished panel is the result of years of relationship-building and the willingness of so many experts in the sports industry to share their knowledge.

“The sports industry as a whole is fortunate to have practitioners who are not only exceedingly well-accomplished, but who have a passion for students and helping prepare them for positive contributions to the industry,” Wong said. “Through our contacts and working relationships built across many, many years, we have invited these individuals to sit in conversation with one another and our students. We are very fortunate that the panelists we've gathered have offered to support the SLB program by sharing their time and knowledge with us.”

Every member of the State Bar of Arizona must participate in 15 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) credits each year, and the conference qualifies as 2.25 CLE credits. But this isn’t just for attorneys or law students — anybody with an interest in the business or legal aspects of sports is encouraged to attend.

“It’s going to be an impressive lineup,” Jarvis said. “We think this will be interesting to people with just a passing interest or people who are working in the industry full time. But it’s not just geared toward sports attorneys, it’s geared toward anyone who has an interest in business, sports and law.”

Admission is free for law students, and $15 for members of the general public. For lawyers seeking CLE credit, the individual rate is $100, and the group rate (three or more people) is $75 per person. Visit https://asulawcle.com/slb for more information.