Annual Sports and Entertainment Law Program Looks at College Athletics and the Music Industry
Web Editor - Published: March 6, 2014
“I don’t think its any coincidence that you see less scandal in college baseball,” said Associate Professor Andre Smith during a panel about whether NCAA athletes should be paid during the 9th Annual Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium held on Thursday, February 27th on Widener Law’s Delaware campus.

Smith’s remarks came during an engaging – and occasionally heated – panel about the ongoing debate regarding the ethics, logistics, and implications of paying college athletes involved in revenue generating sports such as football and basketball. Smith observed that the NFL and NBA essentially use the NCAA as a free minor league system and that young athletes in those sports are potentially being denied the opportunity to immediately pursue a professional career. He contrasted that with baseball players, musicians, and actors, who can attempt to market themselves without such potential barriers.

“I see them as individuals with the right to market themselves the same way as the rest of us,” Smith said.

Attorney Casey Muir, an agent with CRM Sports Management, took a different stance, observing that baseball players can make a career out of playing in the minor leagues, but that football and basketball players do not necessarily have the same opportunity under present conditions. He also noted that the NFL in particular would be a difficult environment for a football player to jump to straight from college.

“There are very few kids who are going to come out of high school and making a living in the NFL,” Muir said, adding that if those athletes didn’t make it in year one that they were “not likely going to get a second bite at the apple.”

The panel touched on a wide range of issues including marketability, how the question of race plays into the issue, and the impact that paying athletes in revenue generating college sports could have in non-revenue generating sports.

The daylong symposium also featured “Some of What Every Music Lawyer Needs to Know,” a panel with Kenneth J. Abdo, Robert E. Donnelly, and John L. Simson of Lommen Abdo.

The program was presented by the student-run Sports and Entertainment Law Association under the direction of Widener Law Adjunct Professor Alexander Murphy Jr., who served as the moderator for both of the day’s panels.