Arizona State University (ASU) is taking the plunge to become an innovator in the sports law field. Last week, it announced a new program that will allow students to focus on the difficult legal and business issues that sport executives face on and off the field. There are many ethical and legal dilemmas that executives in the sports industry combat on a daily basis and this program will develop legal scholars to work with these tough matters.
The new one-year degree programs are a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) for those without a legal background and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) for those with a law degree. In each program, students will take 18 to 21 credits from the law school and 6 to 9 credits from the ASU W. P. Carey School of Business.
Professor Rodney K. Smith of ASU Law, director of the new programs stated, “I’ve worked in the sports law field for three decades and can see we need professionals who have training in both law and business to help work on regulatory and revenue issues in the sports industry.” “I don’t know of any other program in the country that offers a master’s degree like this with just a single, intensive year of study.”
ASU plans to officially start the program in the 2014-2015 academic year, and it will create courses specializing in the development of multidisciplinary problem solving, strategic management, and analytical skills. The programs are going to be small and personalized, accepting fewer than 30 people each in their first year. They will also focus on team-based learning and look at real-world issues, such as stadium problems, player unionization and contract negotiations. Additionally, the programs will require each student to partake in an externship, gaining valuable hands-on experience in the industry, which may be for a professional sports team, a sports law firm, or a college bowl game.
ASU realizes the potential market for sports law professionals and it is led by both Rodney K. Smith and Ray Anderson, former executive vice president of football operations for the NFL and currently ASU vice president of university athletics, who will play a critical role in this new program.
“I am proud to be a part of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Sports Law and Business Program because it is the only one of its kind to offer a sports-focused graduate program that combines the strengths of a top law school with a top business school as its foundation,” stated Anderson. “One of the reasons I came to Arizona State University from the National Football League is because of the vibrant Phoenix sports market with its combination of sporting events representative of all major sports leagues and organizations. This fact, combined with a premier research university, will produce top-quality learning experiences for students in the curriculum.”