Exploring the Legal World of Sports


Arun Thottakara ’21 always planned to find a career in the sports world. After he realized his original plan of becoming an athletic trainer for a professional sports team was not the right career path for him, he turned to the business of sports. He applied to all the top sports law schools, but the Villanova Law sports law offerings stood out among the rest. The Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law is one of only a handful of institutes in the country dedicated to the study of sports law. The Center prepares students for legal careers in amateur and professional sports through rigorous academic study, innovative programs, internship opportunities, scholarship and research.

Once at Villanova Law, Thottakara enrolled in the sports law concentration. He had a passion for debates from his undergraduate career at Shenandoah University and quickly realized that negotiation competitions would be essential to develop his skills. During his 1L year, he tried out to compete in the Tulane Professional Football Negotiation Competition (TPFNC) and was selected for the team, which went on to win the 2019 competition. The following year, he was part of the team that made it to the quarterfinals in the football competition. When Villanova Law decided to send teams to the 2020 Tulane Professional Basketball Negotiation Competition (TPBNC), Thottakara jumped at the opportunity, as basketball had always been his professional sport of choice. He and his partner finished in second place. Most recently, Thottakara coached students participating in the TPFNC and he was on the winning team at the Fourth Annual Tulane Professional Basketball Negotiation Competition.

A chance encounter with Villanova Law alum, Michael Siegel ’96, a judge at the 2020 TPBNC, led Thottakara to an internship last summer with Siegel Sports & Entertainment. During his time with the firm, he worked within basketball operations, where he focused on free agency preparation for NBA clients. This involved analyzing the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), contract research on the free agency class and creating player comparisons. He continued his internship through the fall semester, where he saw his work fulfilled as clients negotiated and signed new contracts.

“This opportunity provided me with real world experience in advocacy,” said Thottakara. “It was an amazing experience to have the kind of proximity to NBA Free Agency that I had. I learned how the game really worked from that experience—not theory or CBA knowledge, but how teams, agents and the media function during that stage of the season.”

Thottakara’s most memorable—and arguably his most impactful—experience at Villanova Law occurred  when he became president of the Sports Law Society. In this role, his top priority was to secure funding for students to attend sports negotiation competitions, like the ones he frequently competed in, to ensure no student would have to pay out of pocket to gain this valuable experience. Over the course of 2020, the Sports Law Society worked with school administration and the Moorad Center to secure $10,000 worth of funding for competitions and established the Villanova Sports Law Negotiation Team.

“The work that the Sports Law Society put in will pay dividends to future students pursuing a career in sports at Villanova Law,” explained Thottakara. “I could not be prouder that this is the legacy that the 2020 Sports Law Society Executive Board left on the program. The 2021 Board is filled with unbelievably motivated and talented students, and there is no doubt that they will take the negotiation team to new heights.”