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Sports Law Jobs in College Athletics

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I am often on the lookout for jobs in the sports industry that utilize law degrees and one of the most underrated jobs is that of a college athletics compliance officer.  There are over 342 Division I college athletic programs across the country, all of which utilize one or more compliance officers.  In addition, conference headquarters as well as the NCAA headquarters utilize compliance officers, most of which suggest that a law degree or other graduate degree be obtained before applying for the position due to the rule intensive nature of the job.

I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Anthony Archbald, an Assistant Commissioner and compliance officer for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).  Anthony was nice enough to spend some time with me talking about compliance opportunities in college athletics and the role of the compliance officer at universities and athletic conferences.  Anthony attended Boston College as an undergrad, Tulane Law School and is licensed to practice law in New York.  The answers to the questions below have been paraphrased to the best of my ability.  I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

RS:  How did you get your big break into the sports business?

AA:  I got my first job in sports as an intern in the compliance department with Brown University making $17K a year.  I got the job through a former coach of mine who I knew through my days at Boston College.  I had to suck up a lot of pride as a licensed attorney making so little pay, but I felt that I wanted a career I would enjoy, rather than settling landlord/tenant disputes in New York as an attorney, which is what I did for 7 months after passing the bar exam in New York.  After working at Brown for a few years I was able to move west and take a compliance job with the Mountain West Conference, where I spent two years before taking my current position with the WAC.

RS:  What does your job and that of a compliance officer consist of on a day to day basis?

AA:  An entry level compliance officer or intern ends up doing a lot of auditing and busy work. It’s not the most exciting job but everybody in sports has to pay their dues.  That’s just the way it is for the most part.  In the early years it’s best to build as many connections as you can.  Right now I am on the road a lot, traveling to all of the WAC schools making sure all of the NCAA rules are being followed by the schools.  I talk to players, coaches, and administrators to make sure everything is being done the proper way and nobody is getting in trouble.

RS:  What are the perks of your job?

AA:  I really enjoy traveling and in my current position I have to travel a lot.  I’m not always going to big cities, but in January I am going to make my annual trip to Hawaii to check up on UH.  Other than the travel I have access to sporting event tickets, such as football bowl games or March Madness tickets.

RS:  What advice do you have for somebody seeking a job in compliance?

AA:  Landing a compliance job, like any job in sports, is extremely competitive.  It’s all about who you know, and not what you know.  I myself have been able to place a couple of former interns with athletic programs, but it’s not easy.  Currently the WAC does not offer an internship program, but I would encourage anybody interested in compliance to intern somewhere, pay your dues, get experience, and make connections so that you can try and stand out from the pack and obtain valuable compliance experience.  I know it is hard to suck up the pride, especially as a licensed attorney, but if you want it bad enough that’s what you have to do.

As a footnote, anybody interested in jobs with NCAA Universities, they can be found at:  http://ncaamarket.ncaa.org/search.cfm

 

 
 
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