As anyone who has played a sport knows, success on the field is a matter of timing—and making the right connections.
Success in the field of sports law? Well, it’s pretty much the same. And for the students in UB Law’s sports law concentration, that’s a truth they’re putting into practice.
One fruitful venue for making those connections has been Professor Helen “Nellie” Drew’s course titled Intensive Research and Writing in Sports Law. Students develop their writing and analysis skills while building bridges to high-level executives in the sports world. Their interviews with industry leaders often become blog posts on the UB Law Sports & Entertainment Forum, a lively online repository for discussion of a wide range of related topics.
Third-year student Marissa Egloff has taken full advantage of the opportunity. A football fan, she has scored interviews with National Football League executives at the league’s New York City headquarters, as well as with key Carolina Panthers execs.
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“Everybody I talk to says it’s always a relationship business and you have to build those relationships,” says Egloff, a Western New York native. “I just love doing it, because you get to hear people’s stories and find out their passions, what makes them tick.”
“It is always rewarding to watch students grow,” Drew says. “Marissa has taken the opportunity offered by our capstone course to new levels by creating professional connections that will serve not only her own career objectives but build out our sports law program for other students as well."
Egloff’s first big success was with Lisa Friel, a former prosecutor who serves as the NFL’s senior vice president for investigations, probing alleged violations of the League’s Personal Conduct Policy. “I read a New York Times profile of her and I was super inspired,” Egloff says. “I sent her an email and she responded within 45 minutes. We ended up having a zoom call a week later and I asked her many questions about her path and her position.” Egloff then published an article on Friel on the law school's sports law blog. Friel invited her to the New York City NFL headquarters where Egloff met her in person.”
It took another trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to accomplish her interview with Samir Suleiman, director of player negotiations for the Panthers. He must have liked her blog post, because he provided her with an on-field pass for the Bills-Panthers game at Highmark Stadium on Dec. 19. The energy on the sidelines, she reports, was amazing.
Many students gravitate to sports law after scholastic athletic careers. Egloff played field hockey in high school, but her primary focus in college was elsewhere. Her undergraduate and master’s degree work at Canisius College was in economics and finance.
She says she’s always loved sports, particularly football, and had aspired to become a sports reporter. She sees sports law as another avenue into that big-business world.
Egloff has brought her new legal skills to the academic study of sports administration as well. Last summer she conducted a study with Professor Drew on women in front-office roles in professional sports. Not surprisingly, they found that the business side of teams remains a male-dominated arena. This spring they are collaborating again to investigate whether Title IX has helped make progress toward gender parity in coaching and administrative positions in college sports. An article reporting their findings will be published in the Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, out of William & Mary Law School.
She’s also active in the Buffalo Sports & Entertainment Law Society, a thriving student group, and is busy looking for her first post-law school legal position.
In her spare time, she recently launched a Twitter account, @WOW_by_industry, to share powerful advice from successful professionals for those just starting their careers. It’s gained popularity quickly as Egloff continues to make connections. She estimates it’s already reached about 400,000 people.