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Sports Law Program Spotlight: Ole Miss

Updated: Aug 3, 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! 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…

The University of Mississippi School of Law

This flagship university in Oxford, Mississippi has more to celebrate than the Grove, beer showers at Swayze Field, and the Hotty Toddy chant (though they’re all incredible traditions). Ole Miss Law also boasts one of the best Sports & Entertainment Law concentrations in the country. A hidden gem in the sports law scene, the concentration provides students with a wealth of legal knowledge not only in sports, but gaming law as well. With the recent rise in legalized sports gambling, this education can provide a major advantage in the job market.

Few law schools in the country can compete with the opportunities Ole Miss Law students receive through the Sports & Entertainment Law Concentration. “I believe our law school probably has the closest relationship between an athletics department and a law school at any university you find,” says Professor Ron Rychlak, a member of the concentration’s faculty and the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) for Ole Miss. As FAR, Professor Rychlak works closely with the Ole Miss Athletic Department, providing information and contacts for law students. Each semester, 2-3 law students are granted work stations in the Athletic Department’s compliance office, researching compliance issues, forming connections and gaining expertise in athletics compliance. Keep in mind, this is an athletic department in the SEC, home to some of the largest collegiate athletics budgets and brands in America; if you can make it here, you can make it almost anywhere!

Many years, during the law school’s Winter Intersession, the concentration offers a unique two-week program: one week consists of classes taught by senior Athletic Department staff on campus; during the second week, students attend the NCAA Annual Meeting. Over this two-week program, students gain valuable insight into both the local and national operation of collegiate athletics. If national sports law issues are too small-scale for you, fear not! Through the law school’s Cambridge Study Abroad Program, students can spend a summer across the pond at Cambridge University learning in Ole Miss Law Professor William Berry’s international sports law course.

While some law schools in the SEC offer an entertainment & sports law journal, Ole Miss Law boasts the only exclusively-sports law journal in the conference: the Mississippi Sports Law Review (MSLR). “We’re very good at the University of Mississippi at getting students published in external journals and our own journals,” Professor Rychlak notes, which is an incredible resumé booster as a law student. Additionally, students not only serve as editors and writers for journals, but also organize annual MSLR symposia featuring speakers from the sports law industry. The law school also features an active Entertainment & Sports Law Society which organizes guest speaker forums and networking events year-round.

The University of Mississippi is a hidden treasure in the sports law world and deserves recognition for the exceptional opportunities it offers future sports lawyers. Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty, where should you consider in your sports law search? Flim Flam, Bim Bam, Ole Miss, by Damn!

(Special thanks to former EASLS President Brandi Granderson and Professor Ron Rychlak, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for this article)

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