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Sports Law Program Spotlight: Arizona State University

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

Sports law is an ever-evolving and expanding subset of the law, and as the recent NCAA v. Alston ruling, NIL, and Super League controversy have shown, there are far more legal roles in sports than the typical pro agent. From arbitration and player unions to compliance and contracts, a law degree can open the door to a wide range of opportunities at both the collegiate and professional level of athletics. Many law schools around the country recognize the potential of sports law and offer some opportunities in the field, while some boast full-fledged sports law programs and concentrations. However, unlike business law and health law, U.S. News & World doesn’t offer lists detailing sports law programs; this makes the law school search difficult for a prospective 1L with aspirations for a career in sports.

Enter the Sports Law Program Spotlight! Although this was originally intended to be a monthly series, we will be putting these spotlights on a more frequent basis due to the popular demand by both prospective law students and law schools themselves. In this series, we highlight a law school that offers strong opportunities in the field of sports law. These opportunities include, but are not limited to:

● a sports-centric curriculum;

● sports law certifications;

● unique legal internship opportunities within the sports market;

● and sports law journals.

The focus of this month’s Sports Law Program Spotlight is…

Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law

When it comes to the best places to be in as a sports fan, few cities can match the sheer volume of events hosted by the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Home to eight professional sports clubs, MLB Spring Training, NASCAR races, PGA Tour events, and college football bowl games on an annual basis, there is no shortage of action to see. In addition, the Valley of the Sun also frequently hosts Super Bowls, Final Fours, CFP National Championships, and other major events. Therefore, it’s only fitting that Arizona State boasts one of the best sports law programs in the country. Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is an extremely attractive option for any prospective student interested in pursuing a career in sports.

In terms of degree offerings, Arizona State offers both a Master of Sports Law and Business (MSLB) and a Concurrent Juris Doctor/Master of Sports Law and Business (JD/MSLB). So even if attending law school isn’t in the cards for you, ASU has the only program in the US that combines sports, law, and business in the same program. However, if your goal is to obtain a JD, students admitted into the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law can apply for the SLB Program to get the “best of both worlds.” In this offering, students receive a full JD curriculum while also looping in sports law and business courses. These courses range from NCAA Compliance and Pro Sports Legal Operations just to name a few. This degree option is offered to incoming law students that have been admitted to the ASU College of Law as well as current law students up until the first semester of their 2L year.

The main goal of the SLB Program is concise and straight to the point: “Getting Students Jobs in the Sports Industry.” Through the program, students receive tremendous networking opportunities to meet and learn from high-ranking officials in the sports industry.” There are externships offered to work for the local teams including the Diamondbacks, Suns, and Coyotes along with local events like the Fiesta Bowl and NASCAR races. In addition, the Arizona State Sports and Entertainment Law Journal is one of the longest going sports law journals in the country and offers students the ability to get involved in legal writing.

The faculty includes some of the best sports law minds in the world. Aaron Hernandez, the Director of the SLB Program, is a former Associate Director of Football at the NCAA. Stephanie Jarvis is the former General Counsel of the Fiesta Bowl. Glenn Wong has decades of experience in the field of Sports Law and has served previously as President of the Sports Lawyers Association. Moreover, the Program is named after former MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, who is a Distinguished Professor as well. The SLB Program prides itself on its faculty offering real life experience in the sports industry, not just traditional academic backgrounds like you might find in other programs.

The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law should be atop any prospective law student with interest in sports list of schools. Ranked as a top 25 law school by US News & World, the JD degree holds tremendous value on its own. But combined with the SLB offering, there aren’t many institutions that can match what Arizona State brings to the table. With the sports industry trending more toward hiring executives who are skilled in both law and business, this is a perfect combination for those who aspire to work at the highest levels.

-Many thanks to Joe Esses (Student in SLB Program) and the faculty for giving insights to the program.

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