Sports Law

As the global sports industry continues to expand, new legal challenges are emerging and transforming the playing field. The multibillion dollar financings and multijurisdictional regulatory regimes demand players have the same preparation and passion that teams exhibit in stadiums and arenas around the world. Cadwalader’s Sports Law Practice offers the multidisciplinary experience and insight necessary to help clients build their game plans and reach their goals.

We represent governing organizations – including the NHL, NBA, ATP and NCAA – as well as individual franchises and athletes across a full spectrum of issues, including commercial and corporate litigation, enforcement and compliance investigations, antitrust matters, intellectual property disputes, employment and compensation arrangements, and municipal finance and securitization transactions.

Cadwalader has represented entities and individuals in a wide range of matters, including Anheuser-Busch in intellectual property and commercial litigation matters related to sponsorship agreements with several NFL teams and Major League Baseball, Guggenheim Securities in the securitization of broadcasting rights for Europe’s largest football leagues, and a swap and credit support provider in financing a convention center and Camden Yards in Maryland.

Our attorneys are involved with high-profile investigations involving sports organizations at both the professional and collegiate levels. Recently we represented North Carolina State University in the investigation by the SDNY U.S. Attorney’s Office into bribes made by apparel companies to prospective student-athletes and their families to facilitate the student-athlete committing to play basketball at certain institutions. We have also conducted independent investigations for the NCAA into conduct by its Enforcement Staff and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill into allegations of academic and athletic irregularities. We are uniquely experienced in the management of and response to major legal crises in sports.

Our attorneys identify and monitor changing variables, analyze potential actions and outcomes, and make strategic decisions throughout the course of an investigation, managing the flow of information between the client, regulatory bodies, and the press. Our goal is to prevent or mitigate reputational and/or financial damage to clients and help keep them in the game, and our considerable government experience coupled with decades in private practice gives us intimate knowledge of all the players.

Off the Court: A Candid Conversation on the Dynamic Legal Environment of College Sports Today

Off the Court Panel I:   Exploring the Current Legal Landscape of College Sports, A Candid Conversation on the Dynamic Legal Environment of College Sports Today

Since the National College Athletic Association was founded more than a century ago, college sports have evolved tremendously from a student pastime to a billion dollar industry replete with its own regulatory, legal and business challenges. Listen to a panel of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP attorneys survey the myriad challenges and legal issues in college sports today.  Topics discussed include antitrust, performance enhancing drugs/controlled substances, Title IX, and independent investigations.   This informative panel was moderated by Anne M. Tompkins, with panelists Jodi L. Avergun and Kenneth L. Wainstein and is set as a primer for Panel II:  Survey of Regulatory, Legal, and Business Challenges in College Sports, which was moderated by Kenneth L. Wainstein, with esteemed panelists Jay S. Bilas, Dr. E. Gordon Gee, and Thomas W. Ross. 

Off the Court Panel II:   Survey of Regulatory, Legal, and Business Challenges in College Sports, A Candid Conversation on the Dynamic Legal Environment of College Sports Today

The nation continues to debate the role of college sports in society as university athletic budgets and rivalries grow more intense.  Listen to an distinguished panel as they shed light on these topics and review legal challenges that question the concept of amateurism, including whether or not student athletes should be paid, as well as the academic experience student athletes receive, and the potential for NCAA reform.  Hosted by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, this talk was moderated by Kenneth L. Wainstein with a panel featuring ESPN Analyst Jay S. Bilas, WVU President Dr. E. Gordon Gee, and UNC system President Emeritus Thomas W. Ross.


  • Representing 32 NFL clubs in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s investigation of the clubs’ compliance with the Controlled Substances Act
  • Conducted the high-profile independent investigation into allegations of academic and athletic irregularities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Retained by the NCAA to conduct an external review into improprieties allegedly committed by the NCAA’s Enforcement Staff during their investigation of the University of Miami and its sports program
  • Conducted a broader review and assessment of the environment, policies and procedures of the NCAA’s regulatory operations, including its Enforcement Staff
  • Representing the employees of a major sports association as pool counsel in connection with ongoing international government investigations into alleged corruption and money laundering by the organization, its employees and its affiliated organizations worldwide


  • Advised MasterCard on the commercial and antitrust aspects of its multi-million dollar sponsorship negotiations and the implementation of agreements with FIFA for several World Cup tournaments, which led to successful litigation on behalf of MasterCard when FIFA later signed a deal with Visa
  • Advised MasterCard on the commercial and antitrust aspects of its sponsorship negotiations and the implementation of an agreement with UEFA for several Champions League tournaments

Commercial Litigation and Contracts

  • Successfully represented Anheuser-Busch in a case against Major League Baseball preserving the sponsorship agreement Anheuser-Busch had negotiated with the MLB
  • As a co-defendant with the New England Patriots, obtained summary judgment and preserved Anheuser-Busch’s 10-year exclusive sponsorship of the Patriots against MillerCoors’ claim that it had entered into a binding agreement with the Patriots
  • Advised clients on various sports marketing and contract issues

Municipal and Project Financing

  • Represented a letter of credit bank in the financing of Dolphins Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins
  • Represented a swap and credit support provider in the financing by the Maryland Stadium Authority of a convention center and of Camden Yards
  • Represented Goldman Sachs in connection with the negotiation of an interest rate swap with the New York Giants
  • Represented Goldman Sachs in connection with approximately $1 billion in financing related to the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. The deal involved (i) a basis swap agreement related to the financing, and (ii) the structuring of a $198 million portion of bonds that bear interest at a floating rate that is determined based on the Consumer Price Index and a floating-to-fixed interest rate swap agreement relating to such bonds


  • Structuring new financial instruments and in securitizing and financing nontraditional assets, including sports arena revenue streams
  • Advised Guggenheim Securities, LLC, as arranger of XXIII Capital Financing 1 PLC, a landmark $73 million securitization of a portfolio comprising deferred player transfer fee and broadcasting rights receivables and loans backed by receivables from clubs in Europe’s largest football leagues, including the UK Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A

10 Attorneys

Allen, Noah Associate Charlotte
T. +1 704 348 5164
Avergun, Jodi L. Partner Washington
T. +1 202 862 2456
Blanche, Todd Partner New York
T. +1 212 504 6226
Brophy, Vincent Partner Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 891 81 70
T. +44 (0) 20 7170 8770
Goldstein, Stuart N. Partner Charlotte
T. +1 704 348 5258
New York
T. +1 212 504 6316
Larson, Christian Associate Washington
T. +1 202 862 2402
Natbony, William J. Counsel New York
T. +1 212 504 6351
Thompson, Jordan Associate Washington
T. +1 202 862 2357
Tompkins, Anne M. Partner Charlotte
T. +1 704 348 5222
T. +1 202 862 2496
Weiss, Stephen Associate Washington
T. +1 202 862 2347


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