Tag Archives: Professional sports

Top Ten Sports Bars, Photo: Clintus McGintus, Flickr

ASU unveils innovative sports law programs

If you want to work with professional sports teams, big sporting events or promising student athletes, then you may be interested in the innovative new sports law and business program officially being launched this week by Arizona State University. The highly ranked Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU are collaborating on two new sports law graduate degrees you can earn in just one year. Classes begin this fall.

“I’ve worked in the sports law field for three decades, and can see we need professionals who have training in both law and business to help work on regulatory and revenue issues in the sports industry,” says professor Rodney K. Smith of the College of Law, director of the new programs. “I don’t know of any other program in the country that offers a master’s degree like this with just a single, intensive year of study.”

The two new one-year degrees are a master of legal studies (MLS), for those without a law background, and a master of laws (LLM), for those who already graduated from law school. In each program, students will work on 18 to 21 credits from the law school, and six to nine credits from the W. P. Carey School. This includes an externship, which might be for a professional sports team, a sports law firm or even a big event like a college bowl game. The programs are going to be small and personalized, accepting fewer than 30 people each in their first year. They will also focus on team-based learning and look at real-world issues, such as stadium problems, player unionization and contract negotiations.

Ray Anderson, ASU vice president of university athletics and a former executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League, will be a professor of practice in the programs. He wanted to be part of a high-quality sports offering, and this one is located in a metropolitan area with three professional sports teams, major golf events, college football bowl games and even next year’s Super Bowl.

“I am proud to be a part of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law Sports Law and Business Program because it is the only one of its kind to offer a sports-focused graduate program that combines the strengths of a top law school with a top business school as its foundation,” Anderson says. “One of the reasons I came to Arizona State University from the National Football League is because of the vibrant Phoenix sports market, with its combination of sporting events representative of all major sports leagues and organizations. This fact, combined with a premier research university, will produce top-quality learning experiences for students in the curriculum.”

Courses in the new program will encompass both law and business areas, including “Sports Business Strategy and Industry Dynamics,” “Negotiations and Drafting in the Sports Industry,” and “Problems in Professional Sports Law and Business.” Big-name speakers from the world of sports are expected to participate, as well.

“The sports industry is complex and expanding,” says marketing professor Michael Mokwa of the W. P. Carey School. “The new program will provide skills and savvy for individuals seeking to make a real difference in the field.”

For more information about the new one-year degrees, visit law.asu.edu/sportslaw. A three-year juris doctorate program will also be added this fall for those who want to pursue their law degree with an emphasis in sports law and business.

Rick Welts, president and CEO, Phoenix Suns - AZ Business Magazine July/August 2011

Rick Welts, President And CEO, Phoenix Suns

CEO Rick Welts discusses how the recession has affected the professional sports industry, the sports industry’s role in economic development, the Phoenix Coyotes, and more.

Rick Welts
Title: President and CEO
Company: Phoenix Suns


How did the recession affect the professional sports industry?

It certainly put pressure on pricing. The Suns haven’t raised prices in three years now and certainly didn’t feel like we were in a position to. The types of products that we tried to create for ticket buyers, I think, were reflective of the economy and understanding that we’re probably going to sell more partial full-season tickets than we are our traditional season ticket. … We have our own market for resale tickets for people who own tickets and want to sell them to other people, which was an opportunity for people to recoup some of the investment they’d made on season tickets. And I think we saw that across all the teams in the Valley.

Are you seeing any positive changes in the economy?

Our television ratings were up significantly this past year, and I think one of the trade-offs between people coming to the arena and the television broadcast was that we actually had more people that were part of our audience there. We’re unique among the Valley sports teams in that we produce and sell all of our own television games. … I think definitely last season we saw an upturn in ad spending, which is important to us because it’s a big part of our revenue on our television broadcast.

What role do pro-sports teams play in economic development?

I’m a huge believer that we are the greatest brand ambassadors for Phoenix that exist out there. … So, when we have games on national television coming from Phoenix, Arizona, and you have beauty shots of our incredible community, it’s really a two-and-a-half hour commercial for our region, for the city of Phoenix.

What about the rift between the Goldwater Institute and Glendale over the Phoenix Coyotes?

It’s really an important topic that cities are going to have to wrestle with, and our city is going to have to wrestle with. … The economics of our business are not such that sports teams by themselves can afford to build a multi-purpose facility … But how we pay for that, what’s the appropriate investment, what’s the right way to go about doing it is a very fair discussion to have out there between sports teams, the public and our elected officials.

Why was it important to publicly announce that you’re gay?

We really want to have an open discussion about sexual orientation within this industry, which is a very difficult topic for us to get to. For whatever reason, we’re a little out of step with where most of our society is today in having that discussion and feeling comfortable having it. The purpose was to hopefully facilitate more of that discussion, which I can promise you has been the case. What I also said is that I wanted to at least have a person out there who young people could identify with who might give them a little hope that pursuing their passion, if it’s team sports, wasn’t something that was out of reach just because of who they were. … I’m at the very beginning of what’s going to be a very interesting journey for me on this. … I’m going to let the experience guide me.

Vital Stats: Rick Welts

    • Worked for the Seattle SuperSonics from 1969 to 1979 starting as a ball boy and ending as director of public relations
    • Started his tenure in the NBA league office in 1982 as director of national promotions for NBA Properties
    • Credited with the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend concept in 1984
    • In 1998, Brandweek magazine named him Marketer of the Year for his role in creating and launching the WNBA
    • Left the NBA office in 1999 as the league’s executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties
    • Joined the Suns as president and COO in 2002
    • Named president and CEO of the Suns in 2009

Arizona Business Magazine July/August 2011