Headline Sports Law

Harvard Law School 2012 Sports Law Symposium

What: Harvard Law School Spring 2012 Sports Law Symposium

When: Friday, March 23, 2012

Where: Ames Courtroom at Harvard Law School

The Harvard Law School Sports Law Symposium will focus on the legal and business issues surrounding the recent collective bargaining disputes in the three major leagues and the issues that must still be worked out.  The overarching theme of the symposium will be:“Professional Sports in America: Labor Peace BUT…”  I am looking forward to participating on the NBA Collective Bargaining Panel.




This year saw the NBA season cut short by failure to reach agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBAPA and the League.  While an agreement was reached, labor peace is by no means assured.  With negotiations recently completed in the NFL and upcoming in the MLB, collective bargaining remains an important topic.  With representatives from the NBAPA, the NBA, and third parties, this panel will explore the major bargaining difficulties each party faced, how agreement was finally reached, and what might lie ahead for labor relations in the three major leagues.

  • TIME: 9:30-10:45am (Ames Courtroom)
  • Moderator: Professor Michael McCann (Professor of Law Vermont Law School,, NBA TV Legal Analyst)
  • Mike Zarren, Esq. (Boston Celtics Assistant General Manager and General Counsel)
  • Yared Alula, Esq. (NBAPA Counsel)
  • Jeff Mishkin, Esq. (Skadden Arps, former NBA EVP and Chief Legal Officer)
  • Darren Heitner, Esq. (Wolfe Law Miami, P.A./CEO Dynasty Dealings, LLC)


Over the course of this past summer, thirty-one NFL team owners and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) agreed to a new 10 year Collective Bargaining Agreement.  This panel endeavors to elucidate the issues regarding rookie and retiree benefits that the new agreement has not sufficiently addressed. In the case of the former, the new wage scale forecloses any possibility of a number 1 draft pick reaching a deal that remotely resembles what Sam Bradford (the number 1 draft pick for the 2010-2011 season) had been able to  secure: a six-year, $78 million deal. In the case of the latter, the settlement of the Carl Eller suit filed by retired players following the adoption of the new agreement has led many retired players to believe that they have been left out in the cold.

A number of retired players along with draft eligible prospects not covered by the previous CBA, led by former Hall of Famer Carl Eller, had filed a class action antitrust suit against the NFL (Eller v. NFL) on the following grounds:

  • The NFLPA intentionally bargained for terms that contravened the rights of retired players against the NFL; and
  • The NFLPA failed in their “fiduciary duty” to retired players by bargaining for current players’ rights at their expense.

Given that the District Court consolidated the retirees’ class action lawsuit with Brady v NFL, the players’ class action antitrust lawsuit against the NFL following the decertification of the Players’ Association, and the suits were dismissed once the NFL and the NFLPA reached an accord, this issue remains unsettled at this time.   Not only will this panel will discuss the aforementioned open items, this discussion will also look back at the issues that led to the newly adopted CBA.

  • TIME: 11:00am-12:15pm (Ames Courtroom)
  • Moderator: Professor Glenn Wong (UMass Isenberg School of Management)
  • Professor Matt Mitten (Professor of Law Marquette University Law School, Director National Sports Law Institute)
  • Professor Patrick Rishe ( Contributor, Associate Professor Webster University)
  • Jeff Pash, Esq. (EVP and General Counsel NFL)
  • Pete Kendall (NFLPA permanent player representative)
  • Joe Nahra, Esq. (CAA Bussiness & Legal Affairs Attorney, NFLPA Staff Counsel)


The mission of the Sports Legacy Institute is to advance the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups.  SLI was founded on June 14, 2007 by Chris Nowinski and Dr. Robert Cantu in reaction to new medical research indicating brain trauma in sports had become a public health crisis.  SLI has formalized groundbreaking neuropathological research by partnering with Boston University School of Medicine to form the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.  SLI Co-Founder and Medical Advisory Board chair Dr. Robert Cantu and other panelists will discuss SLI’s research and address the concussion crisis as it relates to the NHL.  Professor Carfagna will also present Professor Emeritus Paul Weiler Scholarships and Professor Emeritus Paul Weiler Writing Prize at this time.

  • TIME: 12:30-1:45pm (Ames Courtroom)
  • Moderator: Professor Peter Carfagna (Lecturer on Law Harvard Law School, Chairman/CEO Magis LLC)
  • Tim Fleiszer (Representative Sports Legacy Institute, Partner at Gil Sports Management)
  • Mark Moore (Author, Saving the Game)
  • Dr. Robert Cantu, MD. (Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at BUSM, Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Co-founder and Medical Advisory Board Chairman Sports Legacy Institute)
  • Dr. Judith Edersheim, Esq. MD (Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School, Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior)


While the NFL and NBA collective bargaining disputes led to litigation and cancelled games, on November 22, 2011 Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced that they had reached a new collective bargaining agreement without any missed games or practice time.  The agreement allows play to continue without interruption through the 2016 season, and the end of the agreement will mark 21 years without a strike or lockout.  This panel will explore the reasons MLB has been able to maintain labor peace for such an extended period of time and discuss issues that may threaten this peace in the future.

  • TIME: 2:00-3:15pm (Ames Courtroom)
  • Moderator: Professor Lisa Masteralexis (Department Head, Mrk H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst)
  • Paul Mifsud, Esq. (Senior Counsel MLB)
  • Damon Jones, Esq. (Washington Nationals General Counsel)
  • Mary Braza, Esq. (Foley Lardner)
  • Matt Nussbaum, Esq. (MLBPA Assistant General Counsel)

PANEL #5 – Performance Enhancing Drugs

Performance Enhancing Drugs have been getting a lot of attention lately throughout professional sports. They caused arguably the biggest scandal in Major League Baseball history and the issue still rears its ugly head every time Hall of Fame ballots are cast. That problem will only grow in significance as the all-time homerun leader and several other top players of the ’90s and 2000s approach eligibility. Baseball isn’t the only sport that’s been rocked by steroids recently, and in every sport dealing with them a similar set of legal and regulatory issues arises: how should the sport regulate their use ex ante? How should the sport’s authorities punish those who break the rules? What is the appropriate role of the government, if any? What role should the courts take in hearing suits brought by aggrieved players claiming false accusations or faulty tests? Our panel will explore these issues from the perspectives of several different professional sports and several different positions within the sports world.
  • TIME: 3:30-4:45pm (Ames Courtroom)
  • Moderator: Professor Warren Zola (Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, Carroll School of Management at Boston College)
  • Bob Arum, Esq. (Founder and CEO Top Rank Promoting)
  • Adolpho Birch, Esq. (Sr. Vice President of Law & Labor Policy NFL)
  • George Hanna (Senior Director of Investigations MLB)
  • Dan Mullin (Vice President and Director MLB Department of Investigations)
  • David Cornwell, Esq. (DNK Cornwell)

Cost: Free. Register here.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.