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Handicapping Christie v. NCAA: How will the Supreme Court Vote on PASPA?


The briefing is complete and the oral argument is over in Christie v. NCAA. All that remains is for the Supreme Court to decide the case. How will the Court decide? Will New Jersey blow up the PASPA dam and send regulated sports betting gushing throughout the land? Or will the sports organizations maintain their right to decide how a controlled release of regulated sports betting should occur? Here is my handicapping of how each Justice may vote. But before we look at each Justice individually, there are three meta-aspects of this case that should be considered in handicapping the vote. Continue Reading »

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Reform the Federal Sports Betting Excise Tax “Dilemma”


Now that Congress has passed a budget resolution that sets the stage for fast-track tax reform, here is one tax that clearly should be included in any reform package:

The excise tax on sports betting that is codified in sections 4401 and 4411 of the Internal Revenue Code.  See 26 U.S.C. §§ 4401 and 4411.

The excise tax on sports betting contributes nothing to the national treasury and was never intended to do so.  Rather, Congress included this excise tax in the Revenue Act of 1951 “to facilitate the enforcement of state criminal laws against gambling.”  Note, The Federal Gambling Tax and the Constitution, 43 J. of Crim. Law and Criminology 637, 637 (1953).  Continue Reading »

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Title IX Compliance: NCAA Adopts Sexual Violence Prevention Policy


In August, a formal sexual violence prevention policy was adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors. College coaches, student-athletes, and athletics administrators must now complete education each year in sexual violence prevention. As part of this new policy, the university president or chancellor, athletics director, and Title IX coordinator must attest annually that such education was provided. This also includes a declaration that: Continue Reading »

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Making Sense of College Coaching Contracts


“In addition to the growing financial commitments involved, negotiating college coaching contracts has become a far more complex procedure for both parties due to the non-standardized nature of each process and outcome. Unlike professional athletes and actors that collectively bargain for certain rights, every single coaching contract is a unique agreement unto-itself. Understanding the nuances of such contracts can allow for the creation of a sensible agreement that benefits and protects both sides, without making it a zero-sum game.”
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Supreme Court Finds Cheerleading Uniforms Copyrightable in Landmark Apparel Copyright Case

In the first apparel copyright case ever considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., the high court found on March 22, 2017 that decorative elements of a cheerleading uniform could be protected by copyright law.

Varsity Brands Inc., the country’s largest cheerleading supplier, sued Star Athletica LLC, an upstart rival, claiming that Star Athletica has used several two-dimensional design elements, such as stripes and chevron patterns, in which Varsity claimed copyright protection.

Apparel has typically been beyond the scope of the Copyright Act because it does not protect functional items. However, certain aspects of apparel may be protectable if they are either physically or conceptually separable from the functional aspect of the apparel.  Specifically, the Copyright Act provides protection to these certain aspects of a design “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspect of the article.”  17 U.S.C. § 101. Continue Reading »

Why Roger Goodell Might Be Glad The Super Bowl Is Not Competing With An eSports Event … Yet

sb51Every year, no sporting event attracts more viewers than the Super Bowl.  That will be the case again when the Patriots and Falcons square off in Super Bowl 51.  But not everything on TV is the same as it has been in the past.

In a recent column, Sports Business Journal media reporter John Ourand predicted the Super Bowl 51 audience will decline 5 percent from the 111.9 million people who watched Denver upset Carolina in Super Bowl 50.  If his prediction is accurate, it will be consistent with the trends that NFL broadcaster endured during the regular season and playoffs.  NFL ratings tumbled about 14 percent during the first half of the 2016 NFL regular season and reportedly finished down 8 percent from 2015.  In addition, seven of the 10 playoff games played to date have drawn fewer viewers than they did in 2015. Continue Reading »

Best Practices for Collegiate Coaches Regarding Title IX

Dana Drew Shaw

Dana Drew Shaw

Title IX continues to evolve and the future enforcement of the legislation may be somewhat uncertain due to the transition of leadership at the federal level as summarized by Marissa Pollick in her recent post. Despite this change, coaches still need to understand and follow the law and regulations in addition to working with university staff to develop and supervise Title IX initiatives.

The Title IX Mandate. Title IX provides that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The scope of Title IX expands beyond equitable participation opportunities, scholarships, and fair treatment based on gender in athletics and includes any sex-based discrimination in educational programs including sexual violence and misconduct.

Coaches must be familiar with these aspects of Title IX: Continue Reading »