Campbell Law School offers pro bono clinic for NCAA athletes

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For most of its existence, the NCAA didn’t allow student athletes to profit from their athletic prowess when they were represented in other media. That has since changed, and an athlete’s name, image and likeness (NIL) can now be used for commercial purposes, with the profit going back to the student. Understandably, this has resulted in a hornet’s nest of legal issues, which most students cannot afford.

Enter Campbell Law School: the school is launching its sixth pro bono clinic, the Shipman & Wright Sports Law Clinic, to provide legal assistance to local student athletes who will be dealing with third-party arrangements to have their NIL used. The clinic is named after alumnus Gary Shipman, who donated generously to the school and will also direct the clinic. The clinic is available to any third-year students starting with the fall 2021 semester.

Shipman explained that as of July 1, 2021, student athletes have essentially no restrictions on their ability to earn money from the commercial use of their NIL. As a result, many student athletes nationwide are being bombarded with offers to make ostensibly lucrative business deals.

“The NCAA has left administration of NIL to its member institutions, which are suddenly faced with potentially conflicting requirements of their own sponsor contracts, alumni and boosters and literally thousands of individual student athletes,” Shipman said. “Several state legislatures have passed NIL legislation and are developing related regulatory schemes, but the majority of states, including North Carolina, have yet to do so. Many observers think that Congress will eventually step in with a national regulatory system with clear enforcement rules.  But that will take some time, and in the interim, the futures of vulnerable and typically unrepresented young people are potentially compromised.”

“I am thrilled to be able to offer this unique and timely opportunity to our law students as well as provide a much-needed service to student athletes,” Dean J. Rich Leonard said. “Our Sports Law Clinic will provide sound legal advice and analysis to this vulnerable population to assist them in realizing the value of their NIL property, while offering student attorneys the chance to develop important legal and practical skills.”

The clinic will initially be offered to eight students who will earn three credit hours for the course. The course focuses on sports law, entrepreneurship, and transactional law, while also addressing professional responsibility along with the student attorney’s ethical obligations to their client.

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