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The Tulane Law School Sports Law program provides students with the background necessary to understand and handle problems unique to the sports industry.

Tulane Sports Law Blog

Alumni Profile: Warren Zola

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Alumni Profile: Warren Zola

Warren Zola

Education:
MBA, Boston College, 1996 
JD, Tulane University Law School, 1992
BS in Economics, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 1989

Extracurricular at Tulane:
Co-founder of the Sports Law Society

Twitter: @StudAthAdvocate

Publications:

Biography:

While a student at Tulane University Law School, Warren K. Zola founded the Sports Law Society; he graduated in 1992. Since 2002, he has served as the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.  He also serves as the Chair of the University’s Professional Sports Counseling Panel, where he advises student-athletes pursuing career opportunities in professional athletics.  In addition, Zola teaches two graduate courses—Sports Law and The Business of Sports. As an expert in the business of sports, sports law, and the transition from college to professional sports, he has contributed to the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, the Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law, the Huffington Post, the Sports Law Blog, and a chapter in the recently released book Sports for Dorks: College Football.

Zola also serves as a frequent panelist and lecturer on these topics across the nation, recently presenting on the state of NCAA athletics to the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the House Education & Workforce Committee of Congress.

Question and Answer:

What was your favorite class and/or professor at Tulane?

Given my career and interests, I’ll give the obvious answer, Dean Gary Roberts and Sports Law. This was a great class that helped fuel my passion for this field. I am also really glad to see that Professor Gabe Feldman has taken over since Dean Roberts left and enhanced the offerings and reputation of sports law at Tulane Law during his tenure.

What was your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?

Probably either attending Jazz Fest, especially since it signaled the end of the academic year, or working at Tipitina’s and getting to meet a slew of fantastic performers.

What's your fondest law school memory?

This is an easy one: meeting my wife, a member of the Tulane Law class of 1991. Perhaps a distant second place (very distant) would be starting the Sports Law Society and seeing it grow over the two decades since I left.

Why did you choose Tulane?

Pretty simple--it offered the best Sports Law program in the country and it happened to be in New Orleans—a winning combination in my book. Next question.

What are the ways in which Tulane helped prepare you for your career?

Which courses and professors were the most important for you? I’ve already mentioned Dean Gary Roberts—he was clearly the most influential in my career. However, I still remember several others that helped ensure I enjoyed my entire law school experience—Jonathan Turley for Torts, Professor Wessman for Contracts, and also quite notably the charismatic Dean John Kramer.

Describe your career path:

I knew I wanted to carve out some position in “sports law” but really had no idea how to do it or what that specific position would be. Over time, partly by choice and partly by luck, a path began to unfold that took me from law school to working in an athletic department to advising student-athletes to teaching and writing. Each step built upon previous experiences and connections. That said, it’s been a lot of hard work but it’s been made easier by networking and great mentors. Hopefully, the journey isn’t over yet.

How would you describe a typical work day?

Quite frankly it’s a daily balancing act. The majority of my time is spent on my primary responsibility of managing a Business School. Since my life is tied to the academic calendar there is a clear ebb and flow depending upon the time of year. I’m also conscious of the calendar for student-athletes and their specific needs—which vary month to month. For football, December and January can be a crazy time as they are interviewing agents and trying to figure out what their NFL prospects may be. Players in basketball and hockey typically get busy in March/April as their seasons wind down. The rest of the year is spent educating student-athletes and their families about the process in general. I also teach one class each semester which forces me to stay sharp on a variety of topics and while providing me with the opportunity to do something I really enjoy.

What is the best part of your job?

Unequivocally helping a student-athlete transition from college to the pros and then watching them succeed in their chosen sport. Watching him or her confront challenging decisions and able to advise them throughout the process is something from which I take great enjoyment. I guess the single greatest part is having the student-athletes come back as alumni and share their stories and lives after school.

What is the worst part of your job?

Unfortunately, not every student-athlete who wants a pro career makes it. Thus, working with a student-athlete who hopes to have a career in professional athletics but, ultimately, have them realize that they are not going to make it as a professional athlete can be painful. The goal is to ensure that they have other opportunities—and having a college degree is a big part of that.

If you could give one piece of career advice to current students, what would it be?

Know that if you really want a career in a particular field, keep working at it and you’ll get there. It often becomes a question of “how bad do you want it?” Are you willing to work for free? Are you willing to hold down several jobs? Are you willing to network and travel if necessary? Bottom line, you’ll make it if you want it, but only you know if the sacrifices you make are worth it.

What do you think is the biggest issue in sports law/business today?

I think the debate surrounding the NCAA and college athletics is going to lead to major change in the next several years. From conference realignment to the interest in unionization for student-athletes to paying student-athletes the debate has gone from outspoken academics to the mainstream media over the past several months. Also, the ramifications of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit could radically change the NCAA and college sports as well.

What do you think will be the biggest issue in sports law/business in 5 years?

Too many to select from: media rights as leagues and conferences sell their content directly to consumers, NCAA reform, PEDs, league expansion, and the next round of CBA discussions.

Why is it so important for student-athletes making the transition to the pro’s to have unbiased guidance?

Because the decisions that they face are life altering. Do I leave college early? Who do I select to help manage my professional career? How do I ensure that I can maximize my talents and potential to earn money while preparing for, on average, a very short career? Obviously there is also tension between what’s right for a particular student-athlete and a University, so I feel it’s imperative that the student-athlete and their family have someone with some experience and insight on their side. That’s what colleges should be doing—helping all of their students chase their dreams and provide career advice/guidance.

What is the most important thing for a transitioning student-athlete to know about making the jump to professional sports?

Educate yourself thoroughly. Get advice from someone who has your best interests at heart and can help you navigate the process. There are lots of people who want to ride your coattails or take advantage of you, and the more educated you become about the process, the better off you will be in the long run.

Dean Zola’s Publications Include:

Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law March 2012

“Transitioning to the NBA: Advocating on Behalf
of Student-Athletes for NCAA Rule Changes.” Link

Sports for Dorks: College Football 2011 September 2011
 
Wrote a chapter for this book, edited by Mike Leach, which aims to address the information needs of college football fans who seek a deeper understanding about the game and its intricacies. The chapter contributed is titled “Understanding the College-to-NFL Transition:  The (Cautionary) Tale of Mike Williams”.

Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal February 2011
 
"Going Pro in Sports: Improving Guidance for Student-Athletes
in a Complicated Legal and Regulatory Framework."
Co-written by Glenn Wong and Chris Deubert. Link

Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-k-zola) 2011 – Present
 
Frequent contributing writer to this blog, most recent articles include: “Supporting Student-Athletes in Their Transition to the Pros: A Financial Argument,”UConn: NCAA Rules (Still) Don’t Apply to Us,” “The Unlucky Draft Class of 2011,” “Transitioning from the NCAA to the NBA: Time for a Change in the Rules” and “I’m Begging You for Mercy.”

Sports Law Blog (sports-law.blogspot.com/) 2010 – Present

Featured and regular contributing writer to this blog which has been recognized as one of three best Sports Business blogs in the country and by the American Bar Association Journal as a Top 100 Law Blog.

Hot Topics in NCAA Athletics: Time for Change?

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In honor of the Final Four coming to New Orleans this weekend, the Tulane Sports Law Program is proud to present a panel discussion of the pressing issues facing collegiate athletics. The panel discussion will begin at 1 pm on Friday, March 30th and run for approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Immediately following the panel discussion, there will be an informal reception until 3 pm. The event will be held in room 257 of Weinmann Hall (the law school building, located at 6329 Freret Street) and is open to the public.

The distinguished panelists are:

Renee Gomila, Associate Director of Enforcement, NCAA
Timothy Epstein, Partner, SmithAmundsen
Greg Byrne, Director of Athletics, University of Arizona
Mike Alden, Director of Athletics, University of Missouri
John Long, Director of Compliance, Southeastern Louisiana University

NCAA Panel poster

Alumni Profile: Jim Aronowitz

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Alumni Profile: Jim Aronowitz

Jim Aronowitz Biography:

Jim Aronowitz graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1998 with the sports law certificate. After practicing at two Atlanta firms, he joined the Collegiate Licensing Company (“CLC”) in 2004, where he is currently Associate General Counsel. CLC represents nearly 200 colleges, universities, bowl games, and athletic conferences, as well as the NCAA, Bowl Championship Series, and The Heisman Trophy Trust. The company was acquired by IMG in 2007 and is now a division of IMG College, the nation’s leading collegiate marketing company. Jim oversees CLC’s trademark enforcement efforts, negotiates license agreements, and provides counsel to CLC’s staff and partner institutions.

Education:
J.D., Tulane University Law School, ‘98
B.A., Political Science, The Johns Hopkins University, ‘94

Questions and Answers:

What was your favorite non-sports law class and/or professor at Tulane? And Why?

I enjoyed Professor Fontham’s Evidence class. He made what could have been a mundane class very interesting. I always looked forward to his lectures. Professor Friedman is also a favorite. He expected a lot from his students and pushed us to think and argue like lawyers.

What was your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?

I loved living in New Orleans and try to get back at least once a year. During law school, I enjoyed heading down to the Quarter, grabbing lunch at The Gumbo Shop, and just walking around. I definitely took advantage of all the great food the city had to offer.

What's your fondest law school memory?

Meeting my future wife on the first day of law school.

Why did you choose Tulane?

Before heading to law school, I knew I wanted a career that combined my passion for sports with the practice of law. Tulane’s Sports Law Certificate program was very well-known and I wanted to participate in the program. It provided a broad curriculum that covered many areas of the law that affect the sports industry.

What are the ways in which Tulane helped to prepare you for your career? Which courses and professors were the most important for you?

Law school teaches you how to spot issues and analyze them in a certain way. Tulane helped prepare me to think like a lawyer when I hit the “real world.” The course that was most impactful to me was Professor Lunney’s IP class. In taking that class I realized I wanted to practice trademark law and get involved with licensing in the sports industry.

What made you want to work in sports law?

I have been a life-long sports fan and decided at a relatively early age that I wanted a career in the sports industry. I was also interested in practicing law and believed that it would be a good basis for a career in sports. Initially, I wanted to be a sports agent; however, I later determined that being an agent was not for me. As I made my way through law school, I found that sports trademark licensing was a great way to combine all of my interests.

Describe your career path.

As I started law school, I very much wanted to be a sports agent. I worked for one agent in New Orleans the summer after my first year at Tulane and another in Chicago after my second year. While I enjoyed the experiences, I also learned that I was not meant to be a sports agent. However, during that second summer, I worked on an athlete endorsement deal. The transactional nature of the work interested me and I caught on to trademark licensing. After my internship ended that summer, I returned home to New York before my third year began and set up informational interviews with attorneys at MLB Properties, NFL Properties, and NHL Enterprises. After those meetings, I knew I wanted to get involved with sports trademark licensing.

Upon graduation from law school, and for the next six years, I worked at two law firms in Atlanta, with a focus on commercial litigation. I realized the importance of networking to create opportunities and met with many attorneys in Atlanta who focused on IP work. I also met regularly with two attorneys at CLC, who are now my colleagues. When an opportunity at CLC presented itself, they already knew me and knew of my strong interest in the position. I am now in my eighth year at CLC and enjoying the work immensely.

What is your role within the Collegiate Licensing Company?

Brand protection is the foundation of our partner institutions’ licensing programs, and CLC devotes significant resources to this important element for effectively managing these programs. My primary role is to oversee our trademark enforcement efforts. I address a number of infringement and counterfeiting matters on behalf of our partner institutions and also resolve contract breaches with licensees. I also work closely with NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB on enforcement matters that are common to us. A good part of my day is spent advising clients, both internal at CLC and the institutions as well, on trademark related issues. I also negotiate license agreements.

How would you compare your work as in-house counsel to working at a law firm?

I do think there is a different dynamic when you work in-house, as opposed to a law firm. At a firm, you are one of several (or many) lawyers. When you work in-house, at least in my case, you are one of a few lawyers working amongst many non-lawyers. The specialized nature of our job becomes a lot more apparent. I also appreciate being involved with a business and having the opportunity to focus on both business and legal issues. To be honest, I also do not miss having to keep track of and bill time.

What is the best part of your job?

There are a lot of great people at IMG College/CLC, with diverse backgrounds and interests, and I really enjoy working with them. CLC represents more than 200 collegiate properties and working with our partner institutions on a daily basis is also a highlight. When I have the opportunity, I love getting back on college campuses. There is always a great buzz at the campuses I visit, especially when there is a game coming up. As an avid sports fan, I also enjoy attending big events such as the BCS National Championship and Final Four.

If you could give one piece of career advice to current students, what would it be?

Find a practice area you are passionate about, set a goal to find a job that feeds that passion, and develop a strategy to get that job. A lot of this comes down to networking and creating your own opportunities. It may take some time and may not be an easy process, but stay persistent (but don’t go overboard) and be determined to achieve your goal.

DeMaurice Smith Visits Tulane Law School

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DeMaurice Smith Visits Tulane Law School

sportslaw01

Earlier this month, DeMaurice Smith , Executive Director of the NFLPA, visited Tulane Law School and spoke to students about the joys and challenges of representing professional football players.  The central theme of Mr. Smith's speech was that players should be viewed as people first and players second.  He suggested that such a paradigm shift is necessary at all levels of competition if we are to succeed in protecting the health and safety of those who play the game of football. 

"Part of the problem is that everyone in the system starts by thinking of the players as athletes first. That is the wrong starting point. An athlete is a person first. When you start there, it changes the way you think about everything."

Following Mr. Smith's speech, he answered a lengthy round of hard-hitting questions from students and graciously continued the discussion at a reception following the event.  Thank you once again to Mr. Smith for taking the time to visit with members of the Tulane Sports Law Program.

Click here to see more photos.

Alumni Profile: Tandy O’Donoghue

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Alumni Profile: Tandy O’Donoghue

WWE Sportslaw
From Left to Right: Woody Johnson (Owner, NY Jets), WWE Superstar Triple H, John Mara (President, NY Giants) Following a press conference announcing that WrestleMania XXIX will take place at MetLife Stadium.
Biography:

Tandy O'Donoghue graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School in 1997 with a certificate of specialization in Sports Law, and obtained her BS in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University in 1994.  She is currently the Senior Vice President of Operations & New Business Development for WWE, Inc. (World Wrestling Entertainment), where she supports various strategic initiatives for the company.  This includes WWE's content distribution efforts, such as its "original content" partnership with YouTube that launched in February 2012, as well as WWE's interest in potentially launching a television network.

Prior to WWE, Tandy worked for the USTA (United States Tennis Association) for five years, most recently as Managing Director, Business Affairs, Professional Tennis.  In that capacity, she was responsible for negotiating and managing many of the television, sponsorship and other commercial relationships for the US Open, the world's largest annually attended sporting event.  Prior to the USTA, O'Donoghue spent three years at the WTA Tour in roles of increasing responsibility, most recently as Chief Legal Officer and Head of Television. 
Tandy began her career as an associate in Proskauer Rose LLP's litigation department in 1997. While at Proskauer, she worked with a number of clients in the sports industry, including Major League Soccer, the NHL, the NBA and the ATP World Tour. 

A native of Connecticut, Tandy currently resides in Darien, a short drive from WWE's Stamford, Connecticut headquarters.

Education:
J.D., Tulane University School of Law, '97, magna cum laude
Certificate of Specialization in Sports Law
Order of the Coif
B.S., Industrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University '94

Questions and Answers:

What was your favorite non-sports law class and professor at Tulane? And why?

If you told me before my first day as a 1L that my answer would be "Civil Procedure with Professor Friedman", I would have thought you were crazy, but looking back, that was indeed my favorite non-sports class.  Professor Friedman had quite a reputation for running a very tough class, and going in, I was petrified.  He didn't disappoint (and I mean that in a good way).  Sure, he was demanding (and rightly so) - but he really taught our class how to think critically through every single issue from its core.  Even though I no longer serve in a legal role, that's a skill I continue to use in my career every day:  taking an opportunity (or a problem), breaking it down into discrete elements, thinking through each element and developing a strategy to address each element (and the opportunity as a whole) in the most effective order.  Friedman, Pennoyer & Neff, LLP - the "must hire" firm for 1Ls.     

I also have to mention Trial Advocacy and Jim Cobb.  Great experience, great learning environment, and fantastic interaction with practicing attorneys and judges.  And Jim Cobb?  A quintessential New Orleans character.  Enough said.

What was your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?

Besides eat?  Probably walking my dog in Audubon Park, right around the middle of spring semester - when the weather was perfect and the days were getting longer.  That, to me, is the magic of New Orleans - it's the only place I know that takes the mundane and makes it spectacular. 

What's your fondest law school memory?

There are many…but one that I recall vividly was a phone call I got in late July after my first year.  It was the Managing Editor of the Law Review letting me know that I had graded on.  That was a big deal to me - I worked very hard to make Law Review and remain grateful for that experience.  From the time I was an upperclassman in college, I had Proskauer Rose in my sights and I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to work there.  Law Review was a piece of that puzzle.

Why did you choose Tulane?

I chose Tulane because it was the only law school at the time that offered a true sports law program.  I know that other law schools have developed sports law programs since then, but I continue to believe that Tulane's program offers the most comprehensive and nationally respected leadership and curriculum.  Once I decided to attend Tulane, I never looked back, and I would proudly make the same decision today.

Describe your career path:

I had the good fortune of starting my career at Proskauer Rose LLP, where I was trained by incredibly smart, talented, and savvy lawyers who took a real interest in developing new hires.  I was also lucky to be a litigator during an active period of sports litigation, and had the benefit of working on some cutting-edge cases for Proskauer's sports clients, including Major League Soccer.  I had my sights set on Proskauer from very early on, given the firm's reputation in the sports law field, but I think it's important to note that it wasn't just the work or the clients that drew me to Proskauer - it was also the culture, a sense that I could really be myself there, a sense that my personality (sometimes described as…animated) would be embraced.  And it was. 

That start at Proskauer gave me the confidence to throw my hat in the ring during my fourth year when I learned that the WTA Tour (the women's professional tennis tour) was looking for a new general counsel.  I went through the interview process and lucked my way into the job (the organization ran on a tight budget, and since I was willing to take a big pay cut, I think my price was right!).  My time at the WTA Tour was fantastic - for a junior lawyer, I think few opportunities rival that of working at a smaller organization with broad reach.  The legal department consisted of…me.  So, I worked on everything from television rights deals, to player discipline issues, to the anti-doping policy, to corporate governance, to prize money negotiations with tournament owners.  The three years I spent at the WTA Tour not only gave me tremendous hands-on experience, but it also helped me get a real feel for the type of work I enjoyed (creative deal-making) and put me in a position to move on to a new role at the USTA supporting the US Open (one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments and the largest annually-attended sporting event in the world).

I spent five amazing years at the USTA and during that time, I formally shifted from a legal role to a business affairs role.  That's the path I wanted to take - but it isn't for every lawyer and shouldn't be.  I've had many colleagues over the years that prefer being on the legal, advisory, and risk-management side of the business as opposed to the deal-driven side of the business.  It's a matter of figuring out what you're more passionate about and what you'll enjoy doing.

At the USTA, I found myself leading various projects and deals that required a lot of collaboration and coordination across departments.  Developing those leadership skills helped me take on various strategic planning assignments and what are best described as "chief of staff" responsibilities for the CEO, including handling industry communications and leading the USTA's relationship with NYC's City Hall (the USTA is party to a long-term lease with the City of New York for the home of the US Open - the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center).

All of the interesting legal, business affairs, strategic planning, and "miscellaneous" experience I had at Proskauer, the WTA Tour, and the USTA turned out to be just the right mix of what WWE was looking for in filling a business development and operations role in early 2010 when I joined the company.

If you could give one piece of career advice to current students, what would it be?

Nothing rings truer to me than something I read in an interview with Nancy Dubuc, the President & General Manager of Lifetime and History Networks and one of the most powerful and successful people in the television industry.  She said "pick your boss, not the job."  I can't think of a single thing that has contributed more to my career than working for people who took an interest in my development and growth, challenged me, inspired me, and generally made me feel good about going to the office.  Over time, I've learned more about the kind of boss I work with best (the "click" factor), and more about the kind of boss I need to avoid (the "definitely don't click" factor).  I would encourage students to keep that in mind as they're starting out.

What do you think a law student's biggest misconception may be about practicing sports law?

High-profile handshaking by day and courtside seats by night.  If that's the reason you want to work in sports law, you may want to reconsider your options, or prepare to be disappointed. 

"© 2012 WWE.  All Rights Reserved."


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