CCHA Adds Seasoned Sports Lawyer to Legal Team

CCHA Adds Seasoned Sports Lawyer to Legal Team

Church Church Hittle + Antrim (CCHA Law) has announced the hire of Paia LaPalombara, who will join the firm’s Sports Law and Higher Education sections and assist the firm’s clients in navigating the complex landscape of NCAA compliance and regulatory issues.

As a member of CCHA, LaPalombar “will play a crucial role in assisting the firm to provide clients with strategic guidance, advocacy, and a deep understanding of the evolving challenges faced by college athletics and higher education. Her diverse skill set, cultivated through extensive experience at an NCAA Division I Power 5 university and the NCAA National Office, uniquely positions her to approach NCAA compliance and regulatory issues from multiple perspectives.”

LaPalombar’s national reputation in college athletics is emphasized by her roles as Vice Chair of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee, a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors Infractions Process Committee, and service on the National Association for Athletics Compliance (NAAC) Board of Directors.

Her professional journey includes leadership roles on several prominent NCAA committees, demonstrating her commitment to staying at the forefront of industry trends. She has “a proven track record in managing public relations, open records requests, and media statements associated with NCAA infractions and institutional and student-athlete crises, aligning with state and NCAA policy.”

LaPalombara’s expertise encompasses a wide range of areas, including:

  • NCAA investigations, case processing, and infractions appeals
  • Student-athlete eligibility matters (reinstatement, amateurism, transfer and legislative relief waivers, academic eligibility, and limited immunity)
  • Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) support (policy creation, collective and third-party support, risk management, contract review, and institutional best practices)
  • Independent investigations (coach and staff conduct, hazing, sports wagering, Title IX sexual harassment and violence, substance abuse, and student-athlete welfare)
  • NCAA compliance reviews
  • Program culture and risk assessments
  • Title IX gender equity reviews
  • NCAA Policy on Campus Sexual Violence

Prior to joining CCHA, LaPalombara served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at The Ohio State University. Her role involved overseeing the Department of Athletics’ investigatory function, managing “a consistent caseload of investigations, and developing best practices that became templates for departments university-wide.

“Her specialization in Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) is highlighted by her business acumen and background in intellectual property. She played a pivotal role in guiding the NIL program at one of the largest athletic departments in the country, demonstrating creativity and direct communication to garner stakeholder support. LaPalombara’s elite student-athlete advocacy extends to the development of Ohio State’s first Elite Student-Athlete Program, offering tailored support for athletes with professional aspirations.”

“Paia’s background in college sports and higher education speaks for itself,” said CCHA Sports Law section chair Kelleigh Fagan. “She is a great fit for our growing practice and brings with her the most relevant of experiences, coming to CCHA Law directly from The Ohio State University and through her service on NCAA committees and NAAC. She will provide immediate value to our clients. We are excited to add her to our team.”