Jim Haggerty Presents at SUNY Legal Conference



Author/Attorney/Consultant discusses communications issues facing college sports

PRCG CEO James F. Haggerty was pleased to present on October 13, 2022, at the annual conference of State University of New York (SUNY) lawyers and administrators, on the many communications challenges facing college sports in the era of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).

The State University of New York (SUNY) is one of the largest comprehensive system of universities, colleges and community colleges in the United States, with 64 campuses and more than 400,000 full-time students.

Haggerty followed SUNY Acting Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley, and talked about the latest developments in college athlete compensation in the NIL era–including how the pure volume of NIL deals are increasing the pressure on student athletes to become “influencers” as well as competitors, with considerable impact on the potential for crises that will ultimately impact reputation.

Haggerty also talked about the need for SUNY lawyers to see the whole playing field when considering the public aspects of legal and regulatory issues. He also touched on the need for proper planning before a crisis occurs.

“Not having adequate communications plans in place turns an issue into a crisis,” Haggerty said. “If you don’t have a plan, it’s like sending your team onto the field and only then making up the plays.”

“You may win the game,” Haggerty said, “but I wouldn’t bet on it!”

Haggerty’s new book coming in 2023

In 2003, Haggerty authored the first edition of In The Court of Public Opinion: Winning Strategies for Litigation Communications, which was published in a Third Edition by the American Bar Association in 2019.

A new, 20th anniversary edition of In the Court of Public Opinion is scheduled for 2023.

In the Court of Public Opinion has been called “the perfect handbook for this age…” by Financial Times, and is considered the foremost treatise in the field. In each edition, Haggerty reviews recent high-profile cases and the mistakes clients — and, significantly, their legal teams — make when managing communications in the public arena.

Haggerty notes that high-profile clients and their lawyers often think that, because they’ve had success in a certain field, they understand the impact of their actions in the court of public opinion. They are often wrong.

In the area of collegiate sports and Name, Image and Likeness, Haggerty cautions against turning a blind eye towards what’s going on.

“Without a plan, people often speak off-the-cuff. If you’ve had numerous meetings with a sponsor, for example, or offered advice of a certain kind, don’t think you’re going to pass this behavior off as a casual, one-off meeting,” Haggerty said. “The public will find out.”

Similarly, lawyers must be aware of what they present in court filings, since each filing is immediately accessible to the public.

“Again,” Haggerty said, “the truth will come out. For years, lawyers have been comfortable making the wildest of allegations in court filings such as client affidavits, omitting material facts, knowing they can always drop arguments later as new evidence proves them wrong. Beyond the ethical issues, with PACER and other state court dockets, all of this information is available to the public in real time.”

Haggerty plans to discuss these issues in the new edition of In the Court of Public Opinion, with examples from real cases, in the sports world and beyond.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” according the Haggerty, “and if your reputation is not aligned with your actions in private, that will eventually come out — to the long-term detriment of your credibility and your legacy.”