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Economic Freedom for Athletes
Attorney O'Keefe has met with representatives of the New Hampshire State Senate advocating for college student-athletes' rights. Name, image, and likeness rights of college student-athletes similar to those that have been signed into law in California are integral to individual economic freedom. Further, these rights provide career and personal opportunities to all athletes, including those who have been historically disenfranchised. The most recent firm blog post on this issue is here.
Representation in Disciplinary Proceedings
Being suspended or removed from your NCAA athletics team or your college or university’s student body can derail students and student-athletes. Most colleges and universities have a handbook or code of conduct or ethics that lay out disciplinary procedures for violations. The sanctioning body is typically comprised of other students, administrators, and faculty. Sanctioning bodies for student-athletes will typically include the athletic director or a representative of the athletics department. The NCAA and individual institutions make extrajudicial determinations that do not reflect due process one experiences in criminal court.
In fact, the alleged conduct that may not be a crime at all. Frequently, students are removed or suspended from teams due to breaches of the school code alone. For example, the University of Washington handbook vests the power exclusively with the athletic director to reinstate a student-athlete being investigated for a felony-level offense.
Locally at the University of New Hampshire, an accusation of violating the Student Code results in a two-step hearing process that could lead to many levels of discipline including loss of scholarship and expulsion. The first step occurs at a responsibility hearing where the Community Standards office determines if the student has violated the Student Code. It is important to act quickly if you are notified of such a hearing. The accused may accept responsibility or present a case why they are not responsible. If the student is found responsible, a student may agree with the Community Standards office on sanctions or they may have a sanctions hearing. These sanctions range from probation to expulsion and may have collateral effects.
Attorney O’Keefe competed in NCAA athletics for four years and coached collegiate tennis as well. He also has a Master’s of Education in Sport Administration degree from the University of Miami. He is happy to help advise you how administrative educational violations, potentially criminal conduct, and the disciplinary board interacts to help protect your present and future interests. Attorneys are not typically allowed to attend college disciplinary hearings, but records of such hearings may be sought by other organizations and students should always be aware of their 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Call our office for a free consultation about student and student-athlete rights.