Session Examines Future of Amateurism in College Athletics

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Third annual sports law symposium attracts professionals, experts from across the country

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Sports Law Review’s third annual symposium explored the future of the student-athlete model of amateurism in intercollegiate athletics October 11 at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Part of the John Paul Jones Speaker Series, the symposium on “Amateurism and the Future of the NCAA” addressed the issues surrounding the high-profile class action filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, in which current and former student-athletes are suing the NCAA for using their likenesses without compensation. The outcome of this case could potentially change the landscape of college athletics and threaten the future of the NCAA.

“The concept of amateurism is called into question when we see the use of student images on video games and the like,” said Maureen Weston, panelist and professor and director of the Entertainment Media and Sports Dispute Resolution Project at Pepperdine Law School.  “O’Bannon is attacking the NCAA rules themselves…..the amatuerism, the no pay rules…..saying that these rules amount to an agreement among all the member institutions to suppress the pay and to fix the price of what former players can get under these rules to zero.”

The symposium’s panel featured five prominent members of the sports law community. In addition to Weston, the panelists were Richard Karcher, professor and director of the Center for Law and Sports at Florida Coastal School of Law; William King, partner at Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC in Birmingham, Ala.; Jason Levien, chief executive officer of the Memphis Grizzlies; and Matthew Mitten, professor and director of the National Sports Law Institute and L.L.M. program in sports law at Marquette University Law School.

“Our students put together a fantastic panel of experts to address the legal and practical questions surrounding the propriety of compensating intercollegiate athletes,” said William W. Berry III, UM assistant professor of law and faculty adviser to the Sports Law Review. “These controversial questions lie at the heart of the future of intercollegiate athletics.”

The event, free and open to the public, offered participating attorneys two hours of Mississippi CLE credit.

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