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Harris Beach launches collegiate-sports practice group

By Eric Reinhardt


Harris Beach PLLC, a Rochester–based law firm with an office in Syracuse, has introduced a national collegiate-sports practice group.

The USA collegiate-sports practice group provides a range of legal services related to the compliance and operational issues of running a college-athletics program.

The nine attorneys involved have worked on these matters previously, says Brian Mahoney, a partner in Harris Beach’s Buffalo office, who leads the USA collegiate-sports practice group.

“We just decided to … formalize our collective experience with this practice group and that has come about … this month,” Mahoney says.

Mahoney practices in the government compliance and investigations team and the commercial-litigation practice group.

He also handles National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) matters including compliance and student-athlete eligibility issues.

Two attorneys in the Syracuse office, David Martin and Donald Martin, who are brothers, are also part of Harris Beach’s new collegiate-sports practice group.

The firm can also call upon other attorneys in the local office or other Harris Beach offices for matters that fall into this legal area, if need be, Mahoney says.

The practice group is composed of attorneys from several disciplines to address issues related to NCAA regulations, Title IX compliance, student-athlete eligibility, club sports, coach-player conduct, sponsorships and contractual arrangements, staffing and personnel, risk management and liability issues, drug testing, hazing and other topics.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal statute that was created to prohibit sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal-financial assistance, according to the website of the NCAA. Nearly every educational institution is a recipient of federal funds and is required to comply with Title IX, the website says.

Besides Harris Beach attorneys, the practice group also includes Bridget Niland, an attorney with “extensive experience working at the NCAA,” according to Mahoney.

She worked at the NCAA office in Indianapolis for a number of years, handling compliance and other issues, he says.

Niland, who is also a professor at Daemen College in Buffalo, still works on matters pertaining to the NCAA and serves as a consultant on Division I membership issues for Harris Beach on this practice group, Mahoney says.

Harris Beach has also started a USA collegiate-sports blog on its website as a forum to discuss issues affecting colleges and universities, athletic directors, coaches, administrators, and trustees, the firm said.

Founded in 1856 and headquartered in Pittsford, near Rochester, Harris Beach has more than 200 lawyers in offices that include Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Saratoga Springs, Uniondale, and White Plains, along with New Haven, Conn. and Newark, N.J.

Syracuse–based Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC is another area law firm that has a collegiate-sports practice group. On its web site, Bond says its practice group represents colleges and universities in NCAA rules compliance, eligibility, and infractions matters.

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