Students Enjoy Unexpected Lesson During D.C. Field Trip

Professor Mathewson and students
In Washington, D.C., l-r: D'Ontae Sylvertooth (`11), Clark Gaines (Assistant Executive Director of NFLPA and former running back in the NFL), Tim English (Senior Staff Counsel for the NFLPA), James Guidry (Manager of Collegiate Affairs with the NFLPA and former quarterback in the Arena Football League), Matthew Baca (`12), Fernando Palomares (`11), Professor Alfred Mathewson.

Professor Alfred Mathewson ended the spring semester with a field trip to Washington, D.C., accompanied by three students in the Antitrust Law in Professional Sports segment of his Antitrust law class. The students who joined him were Matthew Baca (`12), Fernando Palomares (`11) and D'Ontae Sylvertooth (`11).

The timing couldn't have been more fortuitous for Mathewson and his students, who arrived in the middle of the dispute between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the NFL owners. Mathewson and his students met for four hours with a lawyer and two staff members at the NFLPA office. During their late-April visit, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay in the dispute, which had erupted after the league's collective bargaining agreement expired in March.

"Out of three years of rigorous law school curriculum, this was the best highlight yet," said Sylvertooth. "We were able to put into context the convoluted area of law known as antitrust. We were able to sit down and discuss the NFL lockout as if we were part of the debacle. I was thrilled that I was able to attend the trip and suggest that other students take advantage of courses like this."

The NFL owners had locked out the players from training for the upcoming season. The players association responded by decertifying the NFLPA as a union, which turned the situation from a labor dispute into an antitrust matter. The players filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the lockout on antitrust grounds in federal court in Minnesota. After court-ordered mediation failed, Judge Susan Nelson granted the injunction on April 25. The owners then requested a stay, which was denied by Nelson on April 27. The owners appealed that denial to the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which issued a temporary stay pending appeal on April 29.

"Opportunities like this are rare, said Palomares. "It was great to see how antitrust law is being applied in the heated battle between the NFLPA and NFL team owners."

After their session with the NFLPA, Mathewson and his students changed their focus to major league baseball and met with Damon Jones, general counsel of the Washington Nationals. That evening, Baca joined Mathewson for some live action when the Nationals played the San Francisco Giants.

May 10, 2011