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Thomas Jefferson School of Law has selected Rodney Smith, president of Southern Virginia University, to become director of its Center for Sports Law and Policy, which is scheduled to open in the fall. Smith, who will arrive on the San Diego campus in August, said the center would be the first to marry the legal aspects of sports with the industry’s administrative and policy decisions. “There are so many major policy issues in the sports arena that require not just an understanding and appreciation of law, but how it intersects with policy,” Smith said. “What the center will do is take on major issues and bring scholars and practitioners — professionals in the area — together to think about how to solve issues.” The center’s first symposium, scheduled for Nov. 18-19, will focus on antitrust and policy issues surrounding the Bowl Championship Series. The Justice Department’s antitrust division has been looking into why the NCAA does not use a playoff system to determine a college football’s national champion. One point the symposium will consider is why the BCS does not take into account each school’s graduation rates. Had those determined the line-up, he said, the BCS national championship game would have been between Texas Christian University and Stanford University, not Auburn University and the University of Oregon. “We will make recommendations for the reform of big-time intercollegiate football,” he said of the center. A symposium planned for next spring will weigh the implications of moving a major professional sports franchise — a timely topic for San Diego, where the Chargers football team has considered leaving. Smith, who has served as a member of the NCAA’s Division 1 Infractions Appeals Committee, is co-author of the casebook, Sports Law. A native Californian, Smith served as interim dean of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis in 2003 and 2004. He has served as dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, the University of Montana School of Law and the Capital University Law & Graduate Center (now Capital University Law School). During the late 1980s, he was a visiting professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. For the past two years, he taught sports law at Washington and Lee University School of Law as a visiting professor. At the new center, which will be located on the school’s campus near Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, Smith is considering offering courses including professional sports law, amateur sports law, sports antitrust law, labor law in sports, sports law and the media, and a practicum in which students would work on major projects such as Title IX audits, sports contracts and negotiations. For years, Thomas Jefferson’s law school has offered a sports law course taught by adjunct professor Randy Grossman, a player agent in private practice at the Law Offices of Randy M. Grossman, whose client list includes former San Diego Padres outfielder Dave Winfield. Thomas Jefferson’s student-led Sports Law Society has hosted an annual sports symposia and — along with the Student Bar Association, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society and Grossman — has organized The First Annual National Sports Law Negotiation Competition & Sports Law Symposium, to be held Sept. 23-25.

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