Athletics administration and the law

William Woods EDU

The Master of Education in Athletics/Activities program leads to the initial certification of the National Intercollegiate Athletics Administrators Association (NIAAA) and is one of the few to be recognized by the NIAAA as meeting the educational requirements toward becoming a Registered Athletic Administrator (RAA) or a Certified Athletic Administrator (CAA).

Part of the road to certification includes the requirement of commitment and understanding to the NIAAA Code of Ethics. This includes that any athletic administrator “supports the principle of due process, protects the civil and human rights of all individuals… strives to provide inclusive education-based athletic programs which provide participation opportunities for student-athletes of all abilities and backgrounds,” among others.

According to one Winthrop Intelligence blogpost written by lawyer Jennifer A. Harper, Title IX and Title VII expert:

“Athletic professionals are often expected to effectively respond to complaints of discrimination and prevent unlawful discrimination within their departments and athletic programs. However, preventing discrimination depends in large part on understanding the technical aspects of the various laws which prohibit it. The more athletic professionals understand anti-discrimination laws that govern their workplaces, the better equipped they will be to reduce the risk of litigation and help prevent and resolve discrimination claims before they develop into a costly lawsuit.”

Master’s in Athletics Administration students at William Woods take a course in sports law to build an understanding of the laws, rules and regulations for sports and sporting competitions and related activities. So much of what a leader of an athletics program does requires an understanding of:

  • Risk management and responsibilities;
  • Human resources, (hiring coaches and assistants and more);
  • Safety standards;
  • Compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX, student dress codes, conduct codes;
  • As well as embedded issues related to sexual harassment, hazing, drug testing and scholarship of athletic/activities program participants

Matthew J. Mitten, law professor and director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University writes for the American Bar Association, “Virtually every field of law regulates or is relevant to one or more aspects of youth, high school, college, Olympic, and international, professional, or recreational sports.”

Whether you want to pursue a career as a coach, activities coordinator or athletics director, understanding rights, rules and regulations is crucial to the success, enjoyment, and compliance of every party involved.

“The state of Missouri has had its share of sports law cases and issues. This makes sense particularly with the host of prominent professional and intercollegiate teams within its borders,” says an article by Adam Epstein in the Jeffrey S. Moorad Sports Law Journal.

This Missouri case study serves as an example of the wide range of legal issues athletics covers — from students with disabilities, various sports tort claims, intellectual property ownership, collective bargaining and labor law, and Title IX and Title XII disputes.

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