We are very pleased to announce Marquette Alumnus Peter Prigge (L ’12) as our next #SLBrief guest. Mr. Prigge received the Sports Law Certificate through the National Sports Law Institute and served as the Sports Law Society President during his final year of law school. In 2011, Peter was the co-recipient of the Annual Sports Law Alumni Achievement Award. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Martin J. Greenberg Award for excellence in sports law academics and service. Currently, Peter works as the Director of Compliance at the University of Wyoming, which is a member of the Mountain West Conference.
Motivations Behind Law School Enrollment
“For me, law school was kind of always in the cards. … When I went to Washington D.C. after my junior year of college (through Marquette’s Les Aspin Center for Government) and had the chance to interact with a lot of people that work on the (Capitol) Hill, like Congressman and lobbyists, I realized that law school does provide people with that edge to be great at whatever they’re doing. If you’re not going into politics, what are you going to do with a Political Science degree? So, I always had law school in the back of my mind, as well as sports law.”
Internship: Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office
“It exposed me to everything. The second day of work, the police officers that I worked with handed me a bulletproof vest and said, ‘We’re going out to knock on doors.’ It was one of things that makes you say, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It really did open my eyes to the Milwaukee process and how they handle things internally across the prosecution unit. It was an eye-opening experience, and I really enjoyed my time there with them.”
“But once I started taking Amateur Sports Law and classes like that, I got sucked into sports law.”
Differences, Similarities between Leadership Positions
“The differences are working on a different scale and being in a leadership role with my peers and supervisors. I’m kind of the bottom guy on the totem pole as far as our administration, so I’m not on senior staff yet. My role is leading our department in my specific areas and leading student-athletes. I’m the Staff Liaison for our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) … We’ve done over 5,000 community service hours already, we’ve done Toys For Tots in the past, so I spearhead that initiative with our student-athletes and work them on a daily basis to set up our different events. That’s the difference, I’m leading student-athletes and interacting with a different group of people. Even though I’m the bottom guy on the totem pole, per se, I’m still a leader within my department, but I also have to give deference to those that are above me.”
“The training that I got with the Sports Law Society, because suddenly you’re put into a spot where you have to organize events and have to be on top of things and plan event failures, is that the skills that I had when I was in law school running Sports Law Society transferred [to Wyoming]. When you’re doing student events, you have to plan that there could be 120 people at this Fund Drive that we do, or there could be twelve. So you always have to go at it with a positive attitude and continue to reinforce what you’re trying to get across to the student-athlete.”
“The way you lead an organization as a student very much corresponds to how you lead when you’re at the next level. And if there are people higher than you on the totem pole, you need to continue to have that attitude in the way that you approach things.”
Who’s to Blame for Major NCAA Violations?
“It’s an institutional problem typically. Every now and then, yes, you will have these rogue coaches or rogue actors. Or, you have an assistant coach that tries to forge (academic) transcripts or whatever the situation may be. … Generally when an institution commits a Level-I or Level-2 violation, it falls on the entire department. Everybody preaches that it’s a big, team atmosphere, so it’s the coach’s responsibility to be aware of the rules. … The NCAA has this new initiative that deals with head coach responsibility, which basically says, ‘Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, you are in charge of your program, and you have to know what’s going on with your program.'”
“Coaches will continue to dig themselves deeper by saying, ‘I had no idea, I had no idea.’ The NCAA isn’t going to let that fly. For coaches promoting that atmosphere of compliance, it comes from sport-specific supervisors overseeing those sports, traveling with those sports, interacting and meeting with those coaches. In regards to compliance, how much are we educating? How much are we proactively taking steps to make sure that we are doing the right thing? If it’s going over practice hours, are we keeping track of practice hours appropriately? Are we sending coaches reminders like, ‘Hey there’s a dead period coming up, so you cannot have any in-person contact with the student-athletes.'”
“That’s why the NCAA has the principle, Lack of Institutional Control, as opposed to Lack of Individual Control. They’ll punish the coaches if they do something wrong, but typically with these major violations, you see Lack of Institutional Control because the NCAA is saying, ‘On a whole as a department, you are not doing what you’re supposed to be doing.'”
Future of the NCAA in Five Years
“That’s a difficult question because there have been such dramatic changes [over the past few years]. UCONN’s Shabazz Napier after the Final Four said, ‘I don’t have money to eat. I go to bed hungry at night.’ One, I don’t know how that’s feasible, but that’s neither here nor there. Two, all of a sudden you see this drastic change about complete deregulation on the NCAA’s part about how we can fuel our student-athletes with nutrition stations and things like that. Stemming from the same thing, ‘I don’t have money to eat,’ you have cost-of-attendance. Now, we provide student-athletes this additional money and basically say, ‘Hey if you want to go get a pizza at 11 o’clock at night with your buddies after you’re done doing homework, that’s fine. You have this money to go do it now.'”
“Those were two drastic changes that came about because someone screams fire, and then everyone immediately reacts to it like, ‘Holy cow, we need to change the way we do this. We need to change our policies.’ The two biggest things that I see with the NCAA is (1) conference realignment, how that continues to develop and what it means for institutions outside of the Power-5. … If the Power-5 enacts a rule down the line that says, ‘We’re only going to play other Power-5 institutions for non-conference games,’ that has a couple of different side effects to it. One being obviously all of those schools on the outside that get these big-money guarantees. If Nebraska wants to play Murray State in football, Nebraska is paying them $300k, $400, $500k, so Murray State can go and get their butts whipped. But those are also bowl-padding wins that allow teams like Nebraska to get into bowls.”
“And (2) paying student-athletes. Right now, the cost-of-attendance stipend is good, but the NCAA, I think, is fighting over twenty-five current lawsuits with cost-of-attendance and ‘I shoulda been paid.’ I think that eventually we will see the NCAA back away from this stance on amateurism. It’ll still be amateur, but I think that they will really move toward the Olympic model because that will allow student-athletes to get paid. But, I also think it will be a huge wake-up call to those athletes that think they deserved to get paid because, really, it is only applicable to five or ten student-athletes per year.”
“Could Duke’s Grayson Allen sign a small deal with Gatorade or do a Gatorade commercial, and they give him $10k? Maybe, just like in the Olympics. But, I think it will be a rude awakening for these football players that think that they are superstars and deserve to get paid all this money because colleges are making all this money, which they don’t. There were only ten or twenty athletic departments that were in the black last year.”
“It’ll be a wake-up call when, hypothetically, Student A is a football player at Clemson or Oklahoma and says that he deserves to be paid. OK go ahead, get paid. Get an endorsement, go out and ask Nike or Gatorade. Then, you’re going to have a no-name running back in the Big 12 or the SEC that doesn’t get paid. … It’s a solution because those that can will, and those that can’t will realize they can’t.”
We cannot thank Peter enough for taking the time to talk about his law school journey, his job responsibilities at Wyoming, as well as several hot-button NCAA issues. We hope to stay in touch with Peter as his career in college athletics proceeds, and wish him the very best of luck with his future endeavors.
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