“The LEAD1 Angle” Episode 9: Will Stute, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

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Written Recap

Today, LEAD1 released another episode of the “LEAD1 Angle with Tom McMillen,” with guest Will Stute, Partner at Orrick, who is the national trial counsel for the NCAA in concussion litigation. There is perhaps no one better to provide practical recommendations for LEAD1 athletic departments on the legal ramifications of student-athlete health and safety issues than Stute, who is currently representing the NCAA in several concussion-related cases.

In this regard, Stute would provide the following recommendations for LEAD1 athletic departments who now operate in a world of increased liability with respect to student-athlete health and safety issues, and other compliance issues, like legalized sports betting:

  1. Before communicating health and safety policies on campus, athletic directors should ensure that such policies address applicable regulations, including any health and safety guidance from the NCAA;
  2. It is not only important to build a compliant culture, but also to demonstrate and document such compliance. In other words, merely distributing athletic department written policies should be a minimum standard of due diligence. To demonstrate compliance, athletic directors should regularly meet and communicate with all their head coaches to discuss expectations and ensure accountability;
  3. Athletic directors should ensure that medical personnel involved within athletics have the authority to exercise their professional judgment without interference;
  4. Athletic directors should be vigilant by regularly monitoring team practices and related activities to ensure that required health and safety protocols are being followed; and
  5. With respect to legalized betting on college sports, Stute encourages athletic directors to seek practical advice from compliance experts, even before any regulations become law within your state.

While such actions can never absolve all legal risk, following these recommendations can help athletic directors better balance the new litigious realties in college sports, while also running athletic departments in a common sense and practical manner.