Should College-Athletes Seek Sports Law Representation?
Being a college athlete can simply be an extra-curricular activity or it can be a path to the future, depending upon the individual’s level of talent and their aspirations. Whether a college athlete is passionately dedicated to their sport, believing it to be a calling and career, or a bullet point on a resume that speaks to character, competitiveness and collaboration, it is important to remember that college sports have in and of themselves become big business, and that even though administrators may speak of the importance of teamwork and school representation, their primary interest often lies in what is best for their program and the school’s reputation rather than in what is best for the individual. That is why it is a smart idea for a college athlete to have sports law representation.
Though having the representation of a sports law attorney may feel like an unnecessary step, there are several high-stakes issues that can arise for student-athletes, and for which they should have an experienced advocate acting on their behalf. Here are just a few of the issues in which a sports law attorney can help:
- Title IX Violations – Student-athletes frequently encounter evidence that they are being treated unfairly in terms of equivalence of facilities, access to quality coaching, publicity and marketing, game and practice scheduling or other categories of program resources.
- Retaliation – Whether a student-athlete becomes an official whistleblower or simply complains to a coach or other school officials about concerns, they may find themselves on the receiving end of disadvantageous treatment or negative consequences.
- Sexual Harassment – Student-athletes have found themselves the victims of both sexual harassment and sexual abuse by athletics personnel, other student-athletes or anybody else associated with the program.
- Hazing – School athletics programs are responsible for protecting their athletes from hazing but have often failed to stop physical or sexual abuse.
- Constitutional Rights – Student-athletes have First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of assembly, Fourth Amendment rights protecting them against search and seizure and Fifth/Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. Students who are suspended or in some other way punished for something they have said or posted, for attendance at a gathering, and other infractions, and these punishments may be more severe than for other students.
- Liability for Injury – Though injuries are a part of all sports, athletic personnel have a duty of care to provide proper supervision, warnings, safe environment, evaluation of injury and more.
These are just a few examples of the types of issue that a student-athlete may confront. If you are a student-athlete or the parent of a student-athlete and you need information about their rights, contact the sports law attorneys at Bochetto & Lentz today.