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New York Times columnist Joe Nocera and ESPN/CBS sports basketball analyst Len Elmore will debate state of college athletics at the University of Houston Law Center

Amateurs or pros?  Is a free education payment enough for today's players when the college sports industry earns millions?

March 29, 2016 - Is college sports broken?  Are student-athletes a quaint notion from the distant past? Should players be paid and cash in on the merchandising dollars that colleges reap? Or is the lasting value of a free education payment enough?

A New York Times columnist and an ESPN/CBS sports analyst will square off on these issues and more at noon on Friday, April 1, in Room 209 of the Bates Law Building, at the University of Houston Law Center as a run-up to Final Four weekend.

The debate will also be streamed live here.

Joe Nocera, NYT sports business columnist and author of "Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA," believes the NCAA unfairly restricts the rights of college athletes, including the right to be paid.  Former NCAA and NBA player Len Elmore, a Harvard educated attorney and basketball analyst for ESPN and CBS, believes a system that continues to improve its benefit to students as athletes should not be discarded.

University of Houston Law Center Professor Michael A. Olivas, director of the school’s Institute for Higher Education Law & Governance (IHELG) will serve as moderator. IHELG is co-sponsor of the debate. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law. He is also currently acting president of the University of Houston Downtown.

March Madness continues Saturday at NRG Stadium as Oklahoma faces Villanova and Syracuse takes on North Carolina with the winners advancing to Monday’s championship game.

Click here to RSVP for the event. Please email Elena Hawthorne at
or call (713) 743-1125 with any questions.

Media contacts: Carrie Anna Criado, UH Law Center Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-2184,; John T. Kling, UH Law Center Communications Manager, 713-743-8298,; Elena Hawthorne, Multimedia Specialist, 713-743-1125,; and John Brannen, Senior Writer, 713-743-2055, 

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 42,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the University of Houston Law Center
The University of Houston Law Center is the leading law school in the nation's fourth-largest city. Founded in 1947, it is a top-tier institution awarding Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees. The Law Center is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

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