AUWCL’s SELS and BLSA Host Fall Speaker Series

Nov. 18, 2020

During the week of Nov. 9, 2020, American University Washington College of Law’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS) and Black Law Students Association (BLSA) hosted a two-part speaker series on race and the power of networking in the sports and entertainment spaces.

Rod Graves, Raj Kudchadkar, and Professor N. Jeremi Duru.
Rod Graves, Raj Kudchadkar, and Professor N. Jeremi Duru.

The first panel discussion, moderated by AUWCL Professor N. Jeremi Duru, one of the nation’s foremost legal sports authorities, underscored the issues of equality, diversity, and inclusion for athletic coaches at the highest level. Day two of the series featured Kaine Hampton ’15, former BLSA president, for a discussion on his journey from AUWCL student to counsel for original series at Netflix.

When it comes to the Rooney Rule, an NFL policy that requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs, the focus has been misguided said Rod Graves, executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation.

“This rule enabled blacks to be at the table and given the opportunity to sit down before decision makers and be evaluated – from that standpoint, I believe the league has been almost 100% effective,” Graves said. “Where we’ve been misguided is the belief that being represented at the table was somehow supposed to turn the numbers around. And what it has not done is put any responsibility on the decision makers, and has not put them in the position of being asked to make decisions in favor of diversity.”

But if there is more diversity at the decision making level in sports, argues Raj Kudchadkar, executive director of National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, it will “trickle down.”

“Football is a microcosm of our country and the world,” he said. “You look at Wall Street, you look at Silicon Valley. Everyone is always pushing that we need more diversity in leadership and why that’s important, and I don’t think the NFL is any different…When everything was going on with kneeling and Colin Kaepernick, Commissioner [Roger] Goodell said he wished they had come around sooner, and I think if there was more diversity in the ranks of leaders that decision may have come sooner rather than later.”

When it comes to entering the legal field after graduating from law school, Hampton stressed the importance of staying flexible and open to new experiences.

“Your career goal may remain the same, but the way you get to your goal may look slightly different from the way you mapped it out,” Hampton told the audience.

When he arrived at AUWCL, Hampton planned to study finance and business law. But his trajectory took a turn when he attended an event sponsored by SELS and met Damien Alexander ’98, then vice president and associate general counsel, business and legal affairs, for BET Networks, a Viacom subsidiary. This led to Hampton not only securing an internship, but also working for Viacom part time while he completed his law degree. After spending seven years at Viacom, he moved to Netflix in August 2019 and now works in production and development of scripted series projects that are character driven, as well as thrillers.

Learn more about Kaine Hampton '15 in The Advocate, AUWCL's alumni magazine

“For me it was such a big deal to see alumni and hear from alumni what the challenges and what working on the ground looks like. It made such a difference,” Hampton said. “Networking is important, but it’s also important that it doesn’t feel transactional - that it doesn’t feel like you’re just reaching out because you’re interested in an opportunity. Take a second to get to know that person; understand what their background is in and what you can offer them.”