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Collegiate Sports Practice Brochure

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner represents clients at all levels of collegiate sports. In addition to representing the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA"), we represent conferences such as the Mountain West Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, numerous universities such as the University of Denver, the University of Tennessee, Yale University and the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.

We assist our collegiate clients in a number of areas, including:

  • Litigation, including litigation involving anti-trust, business law, concussions/CTE, class actions and other high-exposure and/or high-visibility matters
  • Conference realignment
  • Television and radio contracts
  • Corporate governance, including mergers, conference formation and obtaining tax-exempt status
  • Sponsorships and naming rights
  • Athletics Regulation & Compliance, including internal audits
  • Safe sport investigations and compliance

Representative matters in this area include the following:

  • Serve as the National Coordinating Counsel for the NCAA’s sports-injury claims from concussions to wrongful death claims for all NCAA sanctioned sports
  • Advised the NCAA in connection with a variety of litigation, antitrust and business law matters, including with respect to the structure of postseason college football, conference realignment and other significant issues
  • Represented the Mountain West Conference in connection with a wide range of issues, including television and radio contracts, entry and departure agreements for members of the conference, strategic planning on expansion of the conference and merger discussions with Conference USA
  • Represented the National Football Foundation in connection with the relocation of the College Football Hall of Fame from South Bend to Atlanta
  • Assisted the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, a start-up conference comprised of eight colleges which is focused solely on hockey, with the formation of the conference, obtaining tax-exempt status and various television contracts
  • Represented TD Ameritrade in its Naming Rights Agreement for the home of the College World Series in Omaha
  • Assisted the University of Tennessee Athletic Department in evaluating several sponsorship arrangements
  • Advised the University of Denver in connection with a variety of eligibility matters and sponsorships
  • Represented the St. Louis Blues and its affiliates in connection with agreements related to the 2016 NCAA, 2016 Missouri Valley Conference and 2018 Southeastern Conference (SEC) men’s college basketball tournaments played at Scottrade Center
  • Represented publisher of Blue & Gold Illustrated (regarding Notre Dame athletics) in defense of fraud and breach of contract action regarding purchase of online sports news entity
  • Represented multiple Division 1 sports programs in confidential audits of their athletic departments to ensure compliance with best practices

Internal Investigations & Audits: We also conduct comprehensive best practices, compliance reviews and confidential audits for major top-rated, major research universities with well-known athletic programs.

BCLP is a national leader in offering colleges and universities comprehensive concussion management compliance reviews. The objectives of such a review are to maximize the health and safety of universities’ student athletes; to minimize reputational and litigation risk from sports concussion events; and to position the university as among the national leaders in effectively managing the concussion risk inherent in nearly all sports.  Having a written Concussion Protocol developed in accordance with the NCAA’s “concussion checklist” is just the first of many steps to having a comprehensive and effective program addressed to these four objectives:

  1. Necessary revisions to the concussion protocol
  2. Recommendations to improve concussion spotting, diagnosis, clinical management and recovery (return-to-play and return-to-learn) practices
  3. Additional concussion training and education for staff, students, coaches and parents
  4. Proposed structural changes to ensure independence of athlete medical care

Leveraging the firm’s nationally-recognized sports law group, which offers our clients the unique experience and relationships of more than 90 Sports and Entertainment Group members across the United States and abroad, providing a variety of transactional, litigation and regulatory services to our sports and entertainment industry clients, our dedicated College practice team regularly represents the NCAA, various college athletic conferences and a variety of foundations and other entities involved in college athletics.

We believe that the depth of our sports practice, together with our extensive experience in representing clients involved in collegiate athletics, ideally positions BCLP to serve as any university’s single-source for counsel and representation concerning NCAA compliance programs and issues; commercial, antitrust, concussion, anti-doping and other litigation matters; conference formation, alignment and governance; media contracting; naming rights and sponsorships; stadium and arena development and related tax and financing matters.

Our Collegiate Sports Practice team consists of lawyers with significant experience in advising clients at all levels of collegiate sports. For additional information, please contact our team leaders: 

Phil Bartz: 202-508-6022 or 

Ryan Davis: 314-259-2818 or 

Chris Schmidt: 314-259-2616 or  

Graham Shear: +44 (0) 20 3400 4191 or 

Steve Smith: 719-381-8457 or 

Rich Young: 719-381-8431 or