Institutions, associations, leagues, conferences, individuals, and franchises in professional and amateur sports count on Ropes & Gray’s diverse practices and extensive industry experience for assistance with a variety of complex legal issues.


“I’ve been involved in a lot of big deals—the naming rights for Gillette Stadium, the Reebok deal with the NBA. But to me what we did for the Retired Players Association was the most rewarding piece of work that I’ve ever been involved with because I knew that I made life better for some people who needed and deserved our support.” Ropes & Gray partner Dennis Coleman, quoted in Of Counsel


Ropes & Gray’s sports law practice brings together the diverse practices, resources and experience of the entire firm to focus on sports-related issues.

Businesses, leagues, colleges and universities, teams and individuals involved in professional and amateur sports encounter increasingly complex and specialized legal issues. These types of clients turn to us for help with many key business and legal issues, including:

  • Complex commercial transactions
  • Sports venue leasing
  • Broadcast and media rights
  • Sponsorship and licensing
  • Contract negotiations
  • Employment hiring, separation and transition
  • Transactional matters such as the purchase and sale of professional teams
  • Investigations and compliance
  • Dispute resolution
  • Tax issues
  • Organization of charitable foundations and other tax-exempt entities
  • Brand management and protection
  • Privacy regulations
  • Estate planning and wealth management
  • Sports-related real estate development


Among our recent successes for clients, we represented:

  • National Football League on the formation of a global strategic partnership with Providence Equity Partners to invest primarily in sports and entertainment related media assets, announced March, 18, 2013. The partnership will target growth equity investments of approximately $25 to $50 million in private companies around the world and have the capacity to make larger investments as needed.
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association in connection with general corporate governance and tax matters.
  • National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) on its three-year partnership with Turner Sports to broadcast the Classic on truTV beginning in 2012. Turner’s agreement with the NABC comes on the heels of its $14 billion partnership with CBS Sports to air the NCAA men’s post-season basketball tournament and solidifies its status as a major player in college basketball broadcasting.
  • National Association of Basketball Coaches in its broadcast rights negotiations with ESPN. For four years, beginning in 2012, the ESPN family of networks will broadcast each semifinal, final and consolation game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic played at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, as well as the College Basketball Hall of Fame induction.
  • Various clients in connection with sponsorship agreements with AT&T, LG, Allstate, Under Armour, Coca-Cola, Citibank, Spalding, Nike, Northwestern Mutual, Buick, Hershey’s, Upper Deck, Choice Hotels, UPS, New Balance, Sprint, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Unilever, Werner Ladder, adidas, USA Today, Lowe’s, Capital One, Nabisco, Infiniti and Verizon.
  • Sportscaster’s Hall of Famer Dick Enberg in contract negotiations with the San Diego Padres and on voiceover, theatrical and endorsement matters. 
  • Super Bowl XLI-winning former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy in contract negotiations with NBC Universal, Inc. and regarding his family foundation.
  • Professional football coach Jim Caldwell in his contract negotiations with the Detroit Lions.


We represent a variety of organizations and individuals in areas covering many aspects of sports law. We serve as outside general counsel to the National Association of Basketball Coaches, whose members include approximately 5,000 college, junior college, and high school basketball coaches. In addition, we represent various large public companies and colleges and universities in a variety of sports-related matters.

Our clients include: 

  • InfoMotion Sports Technologies
  • Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association
  • National Association of Basketball Coaches  
  • National College Athletic Association
  • National Football League
  • New England Sports Ventures LLC
  • National sports associations and foundations
  • Athletic footwear and licensed apparel manufacturers
  • Professional sports franchises
  • Collegiate and professional coaches
  • Colleges and universities
  • Sports marketing organizations
  • Athletic administrators
  • Broadcasters
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