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Tulane sends more than just athletes into professional sports

Gabe Feldman, Director of Tulane's Sports Law Program, holds class on the Uptown New Orleans Campus. Gabe Feldman, Director of Tulane's Sports Law Program, holds class on the Uptown New Orleans Campus.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

For the Tulane football team, the goal is to win games. For many individual players, the gold is to make it to the NFL. Most NFL athletes, like former Green Wave receiver Ryan Grant go through the draft, but that's not the only way.

Gabe Feldman has been director of Tulane’s Sports Law program since 2008 and has been steadily putting graduates in pro sports for years.

“We've had a lot success recently placing our recent alum in professional sports teams,” Feldman said. “One of the things I love about my job is that I'm not only in the classroom, but I keep a toe in the real world."

That bridge between students and front offices combines with several high profile sports law cases, such as "Bountygate" with the Saints in 2012 or "Deflategate" with Tom Brady in 2015, to make sports law an attractive career choice, making Tulane an even more attractive option.

"I think people realized that I can actually make a career out of working in the sports industry as a sports lawyer. So I think there are a lot of high profile cases and just the sports industry and just the sports industry itself has exploded over the last 10-to-15 years," Feldman, who appears regularly on national media talking sports law, said.

He added that what sets Tulane’s program apart is the prestige and originality.

The program operates under the Tulane Law School umbrella. Tulane's law school has a national reputation, but where they differ from other institutions is that most law schools only offer sports law classes, but Tulane is one of just two universities that offers specific sports law certificates, according to Feldman. Plus, they’re the oldest one in the nation.

In the classroom setting, the focus in less about grades and more real-world sports law scenarios.

"We have a baseball arbitration competition, a football negotiation competition. If there is anything you want to do in the sports industry related to law, we provide those opportunities here," Feldman said. "The whole program is really designed to get students jobs in the sports industry. We capitalize on all of our connections whether it's friends of mine, friends of the program or alum."

Ari Nissim is one of the roughly fifty alumni working in the sports industry. A 2004 graduate, Nissim was at one point the New York Jets salary capologist. He’s now an agent for Jay-Z’s sports agency Roc Nation where he represents last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the year Todd Gurley.

He knew Tulane’s reputation before he got there and it was confirmed once he hit the business world, where he says the ‘Green Wave web’ is very strong.

"One of the people I went to law school with is now the general counsel with the Philadelphia Eagles and we were in law school at Tulane together,” Nissim said. “So there are a number of us throughout. When I was with the Jets I worked for Mike Tannenbaum, who went to Tulane a number of years before I did. So there is definitely a connection. "

Martin Fischman is another one of those pupils. He started his own agency when he graduated, Fischman & Wiltz, and began his career as an NFL agent.

Fischman represents former Green Wave cornerback Taurean Nixon, former LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow and a rising star in this year’s draft class: Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon. He said the expertise he gained in law school helped him attract clients, even at a very young age.

"To go through such a great sports law program where you get the background in the professional sports leagues collective bargaining agreements and the real intersection between labor law and anti-trust law which makes up the basis of sports law," Fischman said. "I think that provided me with tremendous experience that separated me from some of the other agents."

That really is what it all boils down too. Pro sports is ultra-competitive and cutthroat. Thus, any connection or advantage needs to be used.

Feldman is happy to be the man to provide that edge to the next generation.

“It's what gets me out of bed each morning," he said. "I love teaching and I love writing and researching but I really love helping my students achieve their dreams and most of their dreams are getting in the sports industry."

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