The powerhouse Tulane Sports Law network

That Davis Rourk, brand-new Tulane Law graduate, landed an NBA job with the Charlotte Hornets before graduation this spring is nothing short of impressive, but increasingly common within the school’s top-ranked Sports Law Program.

Rourk and other students point to the intense academic standards that send them skills-ready to work in the industry, and to the extensive roster of alumni and mentors who’ve helped them make the connections that lead to post-law school jobs in one of the most competitive arenas in the nation.

Across the sports industry, from the NBA, the NFL and MLB to national law firms and sports mega-agencies to global sports brands, Tulane Law alumni have taken a decisive hold, and are bringing up recent grads with them. Those recent alumni are joining Tulane Law’s many established sports executives to tackle the myriad of cutting-edge issues shaping today’s sports world, including upheavals in college sports, the shifting landscape of broadcast and marketing, the latest league salary cap permutations and more.

“Without a doubt, I would not be here today without Tulane Law School. It’s my dream and it’s come true.”

Davis Rourk (L’24), who was recently hired by the Charlotte Hornets as Basketball Operations Strategic Assistant.
Davis Rourk, left, was a negotiator as a 3L in the Tulane Professional Basketball Negotiation Competition's final round.

Rourk, for example, had extensive mentorship from Tulane Law alum in NBA front offices, including the Golden State Warriors’ Jon Phelps (L’12), Excel Sports Management’s Tim Edwards (L’18), the Charlotte Hornets’ Chris Robinson (L'18) and the Dallas Mavericks’ Andrew Baker (L'15).

Rourk met the Hornets’ Ryan Gisriel, the team’s Vice President of Strategy and Basketball Operations, through their shared involvement with the Tulane Professional Basketball Negotiation Competition.  Rourk not only helped put on the competition this year with his fellow Sports Law Society students, but he acted as the lead negotiator in the final mock negotiation; Gisriel serves as one of the event’s many star judges. 

Rourk is hardly alone.  The basketball competition—along with the three other sports negotiation competitions in football, baseball, and soccer— have become a runaway success as a significant pipeline for post-graduate jobs for Tulane Law students.  As just one example, the baseball competition’s past leaders Jordan Jackson (L ’18), Michael Silber (L ’19), and Armando Velasco (L ’11) all ran the competition as Tulane Law students and now work for MLB teams or the league.

 “We tell the students each year — essentially everything we’ve built, from the mentorship program, to the competitions, and more — is ultimately designed to help them get a job in sports," said Program Director Professor Gabe Feldman. "It’s an extremely competitive field and we’re really proud and grateful to our alumni and friends, who help give our students an edge."

Alumni including Marshall Rader (L'16), Tim Edwards (L'18), Chris Robinson (L'18) Andrew Baker (L'15) and Onsi Saleh (L'17) have propelled the student-run basketball negotiation competition into a must-attend event by top industry executives.

As far as law school networks, it’s hard to beat Tulane Law’s extensive ties in sports, said Mike Tannenbaum (L’95) the former General Manager of the New York Jets and Executive Vice President of the Miami Dolphins, who has since joined ESPN as an NFL Front Office Insider. Tannenbaum is also the founder of the NFL think-tank, The 33rd Team.

“Tulane is not only an elite school that is offering a program with the academic rigor necessary for the industry, it has the hands-on practicality and real-life experience that makes our alumni incredibly marketable,” said Tannenbaum. “The students are coming out of Tulane really well-prepared for the challenges of an industry that requires a great deal of flexibility.  It’s such a great program.”

Tannenbaum would know. Back in the 2000s, when he was General Manager of the New York Jets, Tannenbaum hired Tulane Law graduate Ari Nissim (L’05) into the team’s front office just as the team would win back-to-back AFC championships. 

More recently, alum Jeff Dorso (L'01), Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Sacramento Kings, hired alumna Caroline Kaniff (L’23) as a junior counsel with his team. Just as he sat down for a recent interview, Dorso was dealing with the team’s closing on a new hotel venture. His work encompasses not just the team’s legal issues around the game, but the entirety of the operations around the Kings, including real estate holdings, branding and more.

Dorso, right, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Sacramento Kings, was a guest speaker at the Sports Law Program's 30th anniversary event.

He points to the industry’s massive growth, which has created exponentially more jobs in recent years, and said he looks for hires that not only understand sports and law, but also can creatively manage the ever-evolving complexity of the industry.

“Tulane is providing these students with opportunities that just didn’t exist before, like the sports competitions, the Sports Lawyer and the conferences that bring alumni to campus,” he said. “The students are getting exposed to different aspects of the industry and it puts a lot of pieces together to add real value for them.”

Dorso and Tannenbaum are a tiny fraction of the alumni that are networking with and pulling in Tulane Law students and graduates to their institutions. Such hires sometimes give back again and again. Take, for example, alumnus Brandon Harrell (L’11), who met his mentee Chelsey Antony (L’19) through the Tulane Sports Law Mentorship Program and hired her while he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. In turn, Antony, now with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) was part of the team that recently hired Class of 2022 graduate Schuyler Corbin as a counsel for the NFLPA.

"The alumni network is truly incredible," said Antony, adding "and it is something that was there for me and definitely helped me in my career. The program really provides these incredible opportunities for you to meet and to network, and to connect with others who have similar interests. But at the end of the day, it's also up to you to take advantage of these opportunities. "

In Corbin's case, Antony had not mentored him directly, but got to know him because she was a mentor to his Tulane Law classmate. "And Schuyler is just an amazing networker," Antony said. "He loves meeting people and connecting -- and, of course, he killed the interviews. He showed up, he was prepared and everyone loved him."

And there are a myriad of other examples:

  • Nick Sabella (L ’12), with the Jets front office, hired Marianna Salas (L ’23) as a summer intern. Salas is now one of only a handful of female NFL coaches and with the Baltimore Ravens;
  • Onsi Saleh (L ’17) recently was hired as Assistant General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks. Saleh got his NBA start through a Spurs internship partnership with the law school that was orchestrated by Spurs executive and program mentor Brandon James;
  • Who replaced Saleh at the Warriors? None other than Jon Phelps (L ’12), who is now the team’s counsel and cap strategist;
  • Jennifer Lewis (L ’98), Los Angeles Clippers General Counsel, created a 2024 summer internship role specifically for a Tulane student that went to Julia Harter (L ’25);
  • Stephen John (L ’23) took a legal role with the NHL last year and now newly-minted graduate Alex de la Osa (L ’24) follows him into a similar role with the league;
  • John Turner (L ’23) recently took a job with the MLS’s Austin soccer club as Director of Player Personnel, after helping found the Tulane International Fútbol Negotiation Competition and with mentorship from Marc Reeves (L ’01);
  • Dan Friel (L ’04) co-founded The Basketball Tournament and recently hired Konstantin Velis (L ’26) as a 2024 summer intern;
  • D.J. Taylor (L ’26) recently accepted a 2024 summer internship with MLB legal where she’ll work with Katie Brezinski (L ’14), who is Senior Legal Counsel in the league’s labor department.
Kimberly Haynes (L'00) is a mentor to 2L Ryane Mejia who met her through the Sports Law Mentorship Program. Mejia also interviewed Haynes for a Diversity Spotlight segment last fall.

Kimberly Haynes (L ’00) has mentored Tulane students through the sports non-profit she founded called the OMBI Group, where she assists athletes and their families with their legal needs. She has been a mentor to rising 2L Ryane Mejia, who this summer is doing an internship with Haynes.

“In some ways it’s all about the networking and building these relationships organically, through going to the events on campus and developing contacts through summer internships or just finding opportunities to talk to people, “said Haynes. “It makes me so proud to see how Tulane’s program has expanded and grown. When I tell people that I am a Tulane law graduate, I can see their eyes widen and it’s just another way that I know our alumni have had a big impact on this industry.”

Antony cautions that it's not just the connections but "showing up. You have to work hard to network, keep in touch with people, create those opportunities to organically establish those relationships. For all those who get hired right out of law school, I can promise that a lot of hard work went into it to make that happen." 

Now after 30 years of sustained success, the Tulane Sports Law Program has scores of alumni in all corners of the industry, four sports law competitions that host hundreds of sports executives and law students from around the nation, two major conferences (the Entertainment and Sports Law Conference and the Women in Sports Law Symposium), a mentorship program and internship program, two sports law newsletters, the Sports Lawyer’s Journal, and more. 

Vicky Neumeyer (L’98), General Counsel with the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, has been a mentor to dozens of students. She is amazed at where the program is today, the exceptional quality it has built, and how much weight Tulane’s name carries in the industry. She looks back at her classmates and the alumni base and offers this advice to current students.

“There are a lot of us alumni,” she said, encouraging students to connect during their law school years. “I look around me in these conferences at my colleagues and where we are is crazy. When those in the industry look for junior lawyers, they look extra hard and give a second glance at Tulane. Get out there, meet us, because you’re part of the most renowned program in the nation.” 


Davis Rourk was a negotiator in the Tulane Professional Basketball Competition's final round.
At the 30th anniversary of the Tulane Sports Law Program last fall, alumni showed up in force, and many of them spoke on panels, including (L-R) Vicky Neumeyer (L’98), General Counsel with the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans; Rene Gomila (L'00) former NCAA Associate Director of Enforcement and head of RG Sports Consulting; Jeff Dorso (L'01), Senior Vice President and General Counsel with the Sacramento Kings; Jennifer Lewis (L ’98), Los Angeles Clippers General Counsel; Tyrone Thomas (L'01), a partner and co-chair of the Sports Law Practice at Holland & Knight; and Kimberly Haynes (L'00), founder of OMBI Group.