We are pleased to feature Casey as part of our latest Sports Law Brief Series. Unlike our former interviewees, Casey held experience in the professional sports world prior to arriving at Marquette University Law School (MULS). In fact, he was a minor league baseball player, a player-coach for the Chicago Cubs Triple-A affiliate, and manager of the now-St. Louis Cardinals Single-A affiliate. Most notably, Mr. Kopitzke was inducted in to the UW-Oshkosh Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015. As a member of the university’s baseball team, Casey was a two-time Division III All-American and, for his career, accumulated a batting average of .350. A member of the MULS Sports Law Society, Casey received his law degree, in addition to the Sports Law Certificate through the National Sports Law Institute, this past December.
Switching Career Paths
“It was a winding road to where I ended up. When I went to undergrad (at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), I enrolled for Criminal Justice and through that, I ended up with an emphasis in the law and court system. If baseball hadn’t worked out, my goal was to go to law school. Well, baseball happened and ended up playing for eight years, longer than I could even have expected or anticipated.”
“I was fortunate that the Cubs gave me the opportunity to work as a coach, so that continued to push back what I had originally set in school to do. Then, I came to a realization as I was coaching that I wanted to better myself. I was looking for a way to distinguish myself, and it dawned on me that I could possibly put (baseball and undergrad education) together … to carve out a new role. You look at a program like the Marquette Sports Law Program, and it was a no-brainer.”
MULS Academic Curriculum
“If you’re talking about the Sports Law Program, it’s hard to single out one as being the most beneficial. I wish I could have taken all of them that were offered, but I guess you have to start with the foundational courses — Amateur Sports and Professional Sports Law because it gives you such a broad base of everything, at least it did for me. I really enjoyed a couple of the workshops. One of them was Professor Anderson’s Youth Sports, and another was with Professor Greenberg, Sports Venues. Both of those were very enlightening, and I learned a lot.”
“In the regular curriculum, having gone back to school after fourteen years, the most beneficial classes to me were Legal Writing and Contract Drafting. Those really helped me get back into the writing mode and understanding how to write properly.”
Sports Law Classes Overlapping With Prior Baseball Experience
“It was very enlightening. With my background (in baseball), it was on the player development side; you go out there and play and try to develop players. To get a different perspective on the industry, it was, again, very enlightening. [In reference to] the ‘best interests’ power of the commissioner, that was something that I never really thought about when I was going through as a player or coach, but it really opened up a lot of different questions and thoughts. Altogether, it really helped me understand the game in a different light.”
MLB Commissioner’s Domestic Violence Policy
“I don’t know everything that went into the implementation of that policy. But, when you step back and look at it, it seemed like it was very comprehensive and didn’t just focus on one area of domestic violence. … Covering areas that are so wide ranging, I feel that it was a huge positive step for baseball, and it would be for any industry as well. To put forth a policy like that and to take a stand, that’s great.”
Commissioner Emeritus Selig’s Professional Sports Law Lectures
“I really enjoyed those classes because he was so full of information in an area that I was so interested in. I told my wife after those classes that I could sit and listen to him speak and go over all of the different aspects of baseball because he was so captivating and so interesting about everything that he went over. I don’t think I could put a finger on one (lecture) that was the most impressive or eye-opening.”
“To have somebody of that caliber and resume standing in front of you, telling you stories about how things really happened, that was pretty amazing for me.”
Multiple Career Opportunities With Law Degree
“I feel that (having a law degree) is a huge benefit. With your law degree, you have the freedom to do a bunch of different things. The nice thing that I felt with the Sports Law Program: there are so many avenues to go in to, and there are so many avenues that appeal to me. As you noted, whether it was as an agent or a front office-type position, there are a lot more options because you invest in yourself and go through the Marquette Sports Law Program. It was a really good experience and, because of that experience, I have the luxury of having different options that are available.”
In closing, we greatly appreciate the opportunity to network and discuss sports law topics with an MULS Sports Law Society alumnus. Casey’s journey is an incredibly fascinating one, and he is surely destined for future success in whatever future role(s) he holds. As such, we look forward to seeing how his career unfolds.
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