NCAA Changes Prompt Campbell Law School to Launch Sports Law Clinic
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced its decision to allow athletes to profit from the commercial use of their names, images or likenesses (NIL), the move opened up a Pandora’s Box of legal implications for student athletes, many of whom cannot afford to hire an agent to represent their interests.
That’s why Campbell Law School is launching its sixth pro bono clinic — the Shipman & Wright Sports Law Clinic — thanks to a generous donation from alumnus Gary Shipman ‘80, a founding partner in the Wilmington-based Shipman & Wright LLP, Dean J. Rich Leonard has announced.
Shipman, an adjunct professor, will direct the sports law clinic, which is available to 14 third-year law students just in time for the Fall 2021 semester. Susan Dunn, also an adjunct professor, will help supervise the clinic’s students.
Located in the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law building in downtown Raleigh, the Shipman & Wright Sports Law Clinic plans to provide local student athletes with the specialized legal services they need to navigate the changing environment in which student athletes may engage in agreements with third parties to profit from the use of their NIL while observing NCAA rules about improper inducements.
“I am thrilled to be able to offer this unique and timely opportunity to our law students as well as provide a much-needed service to student athletes,” Leonard said. “Our Sports Law Clinic will provide sound legal advice and analysis to this vulnerable population to assist them in realizing the value of their NIL property, while offering student attorneys the chance to develop important legal and practical skills.”
Shipman said as of July 1, 2021, there are virtually no restrictions on collegiate athlete’s ability to profit from the commercial use of their NIL while enrolled as students and eligible to play sports. Consequently, whether participating in so-called revenue sports or other sports, young athletes at all levels are being inundated by companies, individuals, marketing agencies and self-identified agents to “do deals.”
“The NCAA has left administration of NIL to its member institutions, which are suddenly faced with potentially conflicting requirements of their own sponsor contracts, alumni and boosters and literally thousands of individual student athletes,” he explained. “Several state legislatures have passed NIL legislation and are developing related regulatory schemes, but the majority of states, including North Carolina, have yet to do so. Many observers think that Congress will eventually step in with a national regulatory system with clear enforcement rules. But that will take some time, and in the interim, the futures of vulnerable and typically unrepresented young people are potentially compromised.”
Shipman, who has practiced law for more than 30 years, launched Atlantic Sports Management in 2013. He is certified as a contract advisor and agent by the NFL and NBA, and his sports clients include college and professional coaches as well as professional athletes.
Eight law students will initially be allowed to sign up for the Shipman & Wright Sports Law Clinic. The three-credit hour course is designed to provide students committed to practicing sports law, entrepreneurship and transactional law the opportunity to develop and hone effective professional skills essential to providing excellent legal services. These skills will include cultivating effective communication techniques, setting and meeting deadlines, working with colleagues as part of a team and interfacing with clients. Professional responsibility, along with a student-attorney’s ethical obligations to his/her client will also be addressed in the context of the clinic. All prospective clients will go through an initial eligibility screening and then be assigned to a student for representation.
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