Sports Law Spotlight: Villanova
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…
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law (VLS)
Known nationally for their reputation on the hardcourt, Villanova’s Jeffrey Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law has brought the University a championship pedigree in the courtroom. Created in 2012 with a $5 million leadership gift from Jeffrey S. Moorad (VLS ’81), the Center is one of only a few dedicated to the study of sports law, presenting a wealth of academic and practical opportunities to its students.
Whether you’re interested in collegiate or pro athletics, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better city to study in than Philadelphia: Temple University, Drexel University, and University of Pennsylvania are only a short drive away, and the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Union and 76ers represent each of the big five professional sports leagues. VLS has an exclusive externship program with the Villanova Athletics Compliance Department. However, VLS students don’t confine themselves to Philly’s city limits. Nearby New York, Boston, Baltimore, and D.C. feature massive sports markets which prospective sports lawyers may explore. Many Villanova Law grads certainly have: Sean Sansivieri ‘08 is VP of Business and Legal Affairs for NFL Players, Inc., and Eric Galko ‘17 is director of the East-West Shrine Bowl while also running Optimum Scouting and Optimum Sports. Additionally, through their work with Villanova Athletics, VLS students are regularly selected to the NCAA Postgraduate Internship Program in Indianapolis, IN.
VLS hosts the Jeffrey S. Moorad Sports Law Journal Symposium, which is covered annually by national media outlets like ESPN and the New York Times. Some notable panelists from past years include Jeffrey Kessler (attorney for the USWNT and Alston), Darren Rovell (Action Network), and Erika Nardini (Barstool Sports). On top of the Symposium, VLS hosts myriad competitions for students to flex their legal muscles. Villanova Law and the UCLA Anderson School of Management co-host the annual Moorad Gameday Case Competition. “It is the only sports case competition of its kind in the nation,” says Villanova SLS President Austin Meo, “bringing together JD and MBA students to both present and negotiate solutions to cutting edge topics in sports law and business.” For any gamers out there, VLS has something that should definitely pique your interest: beginning in 2021, the school will host the Villanova Law Esports Negotiation Competition– the first competition of its kind!
VLS doesn’t just host competitions; much like their basketball team, they win competitions, too! Villanova dominates Tulane’s Pro Football Negotiation Competition, winning it four of seven years and finishing 3rd in 2021. Austin Meo '22 and Ryan Murphy '22 became the first 1L-only team to ever win the event back in 2020; talk about young talent! Villanova has also finished as semi-finalists (out of 40 teams) in each of the past two Tulane International Baseball Arbitration Competitions. At the 2021 Tulane Pro Basketball Negotiation Competition, Villanova's two teams finished 1st and 4th, a year after finishing 2nd and 5th in 2020. These are tournament accolades even Jay Wright has to admire.
So there you have it: Villanova’s Jeffrey Moorad Center is a cut above the rest in the sports law field. Situated in an incredible sports market, featuring robust professional opportunities, offering a strong curriculum, and hosting innovative competitions, VLS students graduate with a wealth of knowledge and a prestigious degree that carries immense weight in the sports law world. If you have any interest in the field, I implore you to consider Villanova Law.
(Special thanks to VSLS President Austin Meo, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for this article)