The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law November 2011
ADR @ Moritz

Lawrence Negotiation Lecture explores Negotiation in College Sports

At this year’s annual Lawrence Negotiation Lecture on October 11, students learned about the intricate details involved in negotiating college sports contracts—from the multi-million dollar salaries paid to coaches to the seemingly mundane issue of how athletes can tape up their ankles. The lecture, entitled “Negotiations in the World of Athletics,” featured Julie Vannatta, Senior Associate Athletics Director—Legal and Senior Assistant General Counsel for Athletics at The Ohio State University.

Ms. Vannatta concentrates her practice on legal issues affecting the Department of Athletics. She discussed negotiating corporate sponsorships and coaching contracts for Ohio State sports and also touched on NCAA compliance and current investigations. Throughout the lecture, she shared her negotiating strategies, including when to be firm and how to maintain positive working relationships.

One of the most interesting negotiations she discussed was the issue of OSU football players “spatting”— placing large amounts of pre-wrap and tape over the laces of their shoes and ankles to keep the shoe more secure. While this practice can help the athletes compete better, it covers the corporate logo, which creates problems with sponsorship agreements especially if the player’s image is published. “It was fascinating hearing about a company fining the program for individual players doing something to gain a competitive edge and perform better at their sport!” said Amanda Barrera, a 2L working towards the certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Faculty appreciated the expertise that Ms. Vannatta brought to Moritz. “We are very lucky to have Julie as this year’s lecturer,” said Professor Sarah Cole, Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program at Moritz. “Her vast experience in negotiation allows her to talk about how the skills we teach here apply in the real world. And as an alumna, she is a great example for our students.”

Students were very interested in learning about Ms. Vannatta’s niche career in athletics. “Ms. Vannatta is one of just a handful of people working solely with a University Department of Athletics. I never realized that careers like that existed,” said Jackie Hicks, another 2L and ADR certificate hopeful.

Ms. Vannatta received her B.A. from Miami University (Ohio) in 1984, and her J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 1987. She serves as a member of the NCAA’s General Counsel Advisory Board. In 2009, she was named one of Columbus’ “Top Lawyers” by Columbus C.E.O. magazine.

The Program on Dispute Resolution offers the annual Lawrence Negotiation Lecture in coordination with the Lawrence Negotiation Competition. Each year, the Program hosts a speaker with a distinguished career as a negotiator.

The Lawrence Lecture and Negotiation Competition are named in honor of James K. L. Lawrence, class of 1965, a partner with Frost Brown Todd in Cincinnati. Following graduation from law school, Mr. Lawrence worked as an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board. He left the Board to join his firm and, for more than 30 years, has practiced labor-relations and employment law. He has given generously of his time, talent, guidance and resources to Moritz, including teaching the annual Negotiation and Mediation Advocacy course over the Fall Break.

Article by Whitney Siehl, Moritz class of 2013.

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The Caucus, the newsletter published by the Moritz Program on Dispute Resolution, is designed to share ADR news with the Moritz community and beyond, as well as provide Moritz students with information regarding externship and employment opportunities. Questions regarding this publication should be directed to Erin Archerd, Langdon Fellow in Dispute Resolution.