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Classes Without Quizzes

Burton Haimes and Daniel Markind
Burton Haimes L’68 and Daniel Markind L’83

College sports have become a cash cow for universities, but athletes get none of the milk. Should they be compensated?

During a sports-related panel discussion called “Classes Without Quizzes,” that question drew an unequivocal response: yes.

Daniel Markind L’83, legal and business advisor to professional athletes, said he thinks college athletes deserve to get paid. He questioned the double standard in which coaches enjoy huge endorsement deals while players are “totally shut out” from any of the revenue they generate.

No argument from Buck Briggs, Assistant General Counsel to the NFL Management Council and Adjunct Professor and Thomas A. O’ Boyle Lecturer in Law at Penn Law. Briggs considered it an interesting accommodation for the NCCA to allow athletes who are preparing for careers in the pros to buy insurance as a hedge against injuries.

Briggs spoke on an issue close to his heart. The NFL depends on major college programs to stock teams’ rosters through the annual draft. The league also relies, Briggs said, on the “twin towers” of revenue sharing and free agency for financial success. Revenue sharing is a boon to players and owners alike. Players will receive 65 percent of league revenue this season and owners will get an $80 million share from the $17.6 billion television contract. No disparity means parity among teams, said Briggs, who understandably sees a future for the league as green as natural grass.

Although the NFL has enjoyed 10 years of labor peace, contractual and other issues do arise between players and management. When they do, Stephen Burbank will be on hand to resolve them. Burbank, David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice at Penn Law, was appointed Special Master of the NFL in November 2002. He said he has yet to hear a dispute, which probably speaks to the health of the NFL. Burbank did say that the collective bargaining agreement, on which he will draw for legal guidance, is the most complex legal document this side of the Truth and Lending Act.

You could forgive Burton Haimes L’68, Chairman of the Board of the American Youth Soccer Organization, for thinking his league needs a Special Master. Haimes said he spends a lot of time on child protection, making sure that volunteers do not have criminal records. But sometimes, he intimated, the league has to protect children from overzealous parents. Case in point. Two children in Los Angeles wanted to be on the same team; one of their fathers sought an injunction to make it happen. Fortunately, he said, the courts threw out the suit. In another effort to protect children, the league established the Kid Zone program, which requires parents to sign a Players’ Bill of Rights. The New York City Council has adopted the program, Haimes said.

Markind’s clients are not quite as young as the children that cross Haimes’ path, but, often in their late teens and from poor backgrounds, they remain a little green themselves. He advises his clients to invest wisely and guard against people who want to bilk them.

He said it can spell trouble “when you end up with huge amounts of money thrust at people who have no experience of being able to deal with it.”

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