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August 15, 2014

Oregon Law Summer Sports Institute scores in first year

The University of Oregon School of Law's Summer Sports Institute just crossed home plate to wrap its inaugural year, and by all accounts smacked a home run.

Watch a story on the program's breakout year, from Eugene's KEZI-TV:

"I think it's phenomenal, because there aren't a lot of law schools that offer curriculum in sports law," Nona Lee, general counsel for baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and an institute guest speaker, told KEZI reporter Jennifer Richardson.

About two dozen law students from across the country spent five weeks from July 5 to August 11 at the UO, in the first program of its kind on the west coast.

"We (got) to be part of something brand new," student Ryan Rourke of Seattle told KEZI. "I don't think any other university is really doing this."

The modern world of sports entertainment is big business, and grows more legally complex every year. Crafting contracts and agreements for an explosion of players, coaches, teams, leagues, networks, merchandisers, and a growing list of others has opened up a whole new field of play for lawyers.

"I think it’s a really up and coming area of the law," guest speaker Brian Halloran, a former member of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, told KEZI. "It's a fascinating area of law, too."

The Summer Sports Institute was a natural evolution from a campus that features one of the most forward-thinking athletics departments, and a renowned sports marketing and business program.

Students heard from sports law experts and athletes, practiced negotiation and other scenarios at the Knight Law Center, and also visited historic Hayward Field during the IAAF Junior World Championships, toured the Autzen Stadium complex, and tripped to Portland to see the Nike campus in Beaverton, the Portland velodrome cycling arena, and a Portland Timbers soccer match. They even did some rafting on the Willamette River.

Oregon Law plans the institute as an annual event, and expects double the students next year. This year's crop has already enthusiastically volunteered to spread the word about how great the program is.

"Our students, our faculty and our guests made this a success," institute director and UO law professor Rob Illig said. "I think everyone was thrilled with how it went, and how much everyone got from the experience."

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