Published on February 1, 2023 by Morgan Black
Samford University Cumberland School of Law, in partnership with Syracuse University College of Law, co-hosted the inaugural Hall of Fame Sports and Entertainment Law Negotiation Competition, Jan. 27-29, 2023.
Each round of the virtual competition featured a different fact pattern where parties from the sports or entertainment industry couldn’t seem to get along.Cases included a baseball player who won’t leave the house sporting brand logos he is paid to wear, a Grammy winning artist vying for unprecedented contract terms with a record label that is very committed to precedent, a bestselling author nervous about trusting his masterpiece to a streaming platform, and a dispute between the NFL and an innovative marketing brand over the size of advertising patches on gameday jerseys.
Over the course of the weekend, competition teams from law schools across the country faced off in front of packed panels which featured major figures from the entertainment and sports industries, including representatives from the Walt Disney Company, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Fox Corporation, an NCAA Basketball championship-winning coach and a star of Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of Miami.”
Cumberland’s team included Sidney Mitchell, Hayley White, Jacob Bruner and Elizabeth Gill. The team advanced out of the preliminary rounds as the fifth-ranked school and ultimately made it to the semifinals where they fell to eventual champion Texas Tech University School of Law. They were coached by Kevin Bufford, J.D. ’17.
The success of the event is due to the dozens of professionals who volunteered their time to judge, advise students, or handle competition logistics. Ben Warren, J.D. ’18, coach of Cumberland’s National Negotiation Team, wrote the casefiles used in each round. Professor Corky Strickland, Associate Professor Tim McFarlin and Adjunct Professor Donald Jackson served as judges in the semifinal or final rounds. Dozens more alumni served as judges in other rounds.
Matt Woodham, J.D. ’15, interim director of advocacy, spearheaded the event with his counterparts at Syracuse. He said, “It was an absolute pleasure to co-host this innovative competition alongside Tyler Jeffries and Professor Todd Berger, the director of advocacy programs at Syracuse University College of Law. We are especially appreciative of the Cumberland faculty and alumni, player-agents, media and sports executives and entertainment attorneys who sacrificed their weekend to judge a round or two. Their feedback was invaluable to the students and will better prepare each of them to act as counselors and advocates for their clients in practice. And, of course, congratulations to Texas Tech University School of Law, the champions of the inaugural Hall of Fame competition.”
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.