Matthew Mitten saw action even before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games began.
The 1984 graduate of the UT College of Law and professor of law and director of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School is in Sochi, Russia, serving as an arbitrator.
He is on a team of nine arbitrators, all lawyers, judges or law professors from around the world who specialize in sports law and arbitration; they will settle any dispute related to the Olympic Games. This special international tribunal, called the Court of Arbitration for Sport ad hoc Division, has operated at every Summer and Winter Olympic Games since 1996.
Mitten and two other arbitrators heard the Games' first case Feb. 3: A female athlete sought to represent Austria in the women's freestyle ski halfpipe, claiming she had been misled into believing she had been selected for its Olympic team. The panel rejected the application because the Austrian Ski Federation did not recommend that the Austrian Olympic Committee nominate her for its Olympic team because of sports performance concerns.
He arrived in Sochi late last month.
"I appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity very much," Mitten said.
"It's been an incredible experience meeting people from all over the world — especially our Russian hosts, who've been so welcoming — and seeing firsthand the power of international sports competition to unite the world's diverse cultures," he said.
During the games, Mitten plans to watch some stellar competition: "I'm looking forward to attending the opening ceremony, the Russia-USA men's ice hockey game, bobsled and ski jumping, among other events."
"Arbitrating at the Winter Olympics is just one of the amazing and unanticipated places a UT law degree has taken our graduates," said Daniel Steinbock, dean of the College of Law.
"Professor Mitten is universally regarded as one of the most knowledgeable sports law experts in the country," said Geoffrey Rapp, UT professor of law, who teaches sports law. "It's no surprise that he's been selected to play such a prominent role at a time when the whole world will be watching."
Mitten, a leading sports law scholar, has authored Sports Law in the United States (Wolters Kluwer 2011), and co-authored a law school textbook, Sports Law and Regulation: Cases, Materials, and Problems (Wolters Kluwer 2013), which is in its third edition, and an undergraduate and graduate textbook, Sports Law: Governance and Regulation (Wolters Kluwer 2013).
"It's been a wonderful experience for my students this past semester, and in years past, to take a class at Toledo in which the casebook's lead author was a UT grad," Rapp added.
"I received an outstanding, well-rounded education from the UT College of Law that well-prepared me for a variety of professional experiences as an attorney, law professor and international sports arbitrator," Mitten said. "The guidance and support I received as a law student and throughout my career from faculty members such as Ron Raitt, Rhoda Berkowitz, Marshall Leaffer and Howard Friedman — and others — has been invaluable."
Mitten has published articles in several of the nation's leading law reviews as well as in medical journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine. He is a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the American Arbitration Association's Commercial Arbitration, Olympic Sports, and United States Anti-Doping Agency panels, and the Ladies Professional Golfers Association's Drug Testing Arbitration panel.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport will operate in Sochi through Sunday, Feb. 23. According to the applicable rules, when an arbitration request is filed by a Games participant, the president of the court ad hoc division sets up a panel of either one or three arbitrators. A hearing is then rapidly convened, at which all parties, witnesses and potentially affected third parties are given the opportunity to express their legal arguments and to produce evidence. Generally, the ad hoc division will render its decisions within 24 hours.
Founded in 1984, the Court of Arbitration for Sport is a permanent arbitration institution that specializes in the resolution of sports law disputes. It has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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