Recent college campus investigations involving athletic, academic and other issues have made national headlines and generated significant online comments and discussions. The cases demonstrate that organizations and their legal counsel should be diligent and proactive in conducting objective investigations, identifying risks and remedying potential issues.
Michael L. Buckner, a Fort Lauderdale-based sports and education attorney, and Lori A. Williams, a Houston-based sports and education attorney and risk management consultant, use the lessons, strategies and best practices from higher-education and college sports investigations to assist attorneys with conducting efficient and effective internal investigations, as well as address investigative issues affecting colleges and universities today. Additionally, the presenters explore how attorneys can assist clients in identifying and mitigating risk exposures.
I. Understand the importance of possessing an internal investigation policy
II. Identify issues in receiving the allegation and making the initial decisions, including:
III. Grasp various strategies to consider when conducting interviews
IV. Recognize when and how to work with outside experts and how to interact with regulatory agencies during internal investigations
V. Appreciate the key elements of an investigative report
VI. Comprehend the ethical issues, including:
Lori A. Williams, a partner and vice-president of Buckner, provides advice on issues relating to intercollegiate athletics, risk management and higher education law. Williams also is the chair of the firm's College Sports and Professional Sports Industry Groups. Williams previously served as the associate athletics director for risk management at the University of Kansas (KU). At KU, Williams worked with department and university-wide constituencies to ensure effective processes among areas impacted by risk management, including information technology, compliance, student services, human resources, facilities, event management, and academic support.
A longtime resident of Houston, Texas, Williams was formerly with the NCAA where she was on staff for eight and one-half years. During her tenure as a member of the enforcement services staff, Williams experienced a prolific career and was regularly commended by members of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions for her great command of the cases and her ability to deliver complex facts from memory. Williams successfully investigated, processed, and presented over a dozen cases to the Division I and II Committees on Infractions. While with the NCAA, Williams served as a director of membership services and was later named the director of academic certification and review at the newly established NCAA Eligibility Center. There, Williams led the team responsible for reviewing and identifying questionable academic credentials provided by prospective student-athletes during the initial-eligibility certification process. Williams was the point person on all legal matters and worked closely with the NCAA Office of Legal Affairs. Williams was also tasked with creating and implementing the organization’s risk management program.
Williams has participated on multiple panels and spoken at numerous conventions and meetings sponsored by the NCAA, member institutions, conferences and affiliated organizations. In addition to being an adjunct instructor at a two-year college and a business college, Williams has been a guest lecturer for numerous undergraduate and graduate courses discussing ethics in sports, women in sports, risk management, and college athletics administration.
Prior to her stint with the NCAA, Williams was the assistant director of compliance and legal assistant to the associate commissioner at the Big 12 Conference in Dallas. Williams began her career in athletics during law school where she was instrumental in creating the University’s first athletics compliance manual.
Licensed to practice law in the state of Texas, Williams earned her bachelor's degree in business administration at Baylor University and her doctorate of jurisprudence from Texas Tech University School of Law. Williams has also earned an associate of risk management designation from the American Institute of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. Williams has been a member of the University Risk Management and Insurance Association since 2009 and authored, “Division I Enforcement Process: A Top-Down Approach to Shared Responsibility,” for publication in the 2014 URMIA Journal.
Michael L. Buckner, shareholder and president of Buckner, conducts internal investigations and projects for global sports organizations, college sports departments and educational institutions relating to alleged unethical conduct, sports regulatory violations, academic fraud, student-athlete abuse, governance issues and performance enhancing drug policy violations. Mr. Buckner previously practiced as a private investigator through his consulting firm, Collegiate Proactive Solutions, where he conducted internal investigations for corporate entities, performed investigative audits for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States of America and Puerto Rico, as well as completed background checks and skip tracing for private clients. He has appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and ESPN’s “College Football Live” and has been quoted in numerous newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Lexington Herald-Leader.
Buckner speaks regularly at national and regional conventions, meetings, seminars and workshops. He also conducts private and public seminars for managers, administrators, attorneys and other professionals on ethics, leadership, compliance, efficiency and investigation issues. He also has written numerous articles and reference materials regarding ethics, productivity, compliance, investigation and operational efficiency issues.
A published author, Buckner’s first book, Athletics Investigation Handbook (2015 Edition): A Guide for Institutions and Involved Parties During the NCAA Enforcement Process, was originally published in 2004 (and with a new edition in March 2015). His second book, The ABCs of Ethics: A Resource for Leaders, Managers, and Professionals, was published in 2007 (and re-released in 2010). He also wrote a chapter on ethics in The Handbook of College Athletics and Recreation Administration.
Buckner was formerly with Holland & Knight LLP, where he headed its collegiate sports administration and compliance practice. He also represented clients in education, commercial, product liability and appellate legal matters.
Buckner is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court; the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; the United States District Courts for the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida; and all state courts in Florida. He is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In his community, Mr. Buckner is a member of the Publications Committee of the Broward County Bar Association and previously was appointed to serve on the Broward County Charter Review Commission, Florida Bar Education Law Committee and Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.
Buckner earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations and social sciences and communication in 1993 from the University of Southern California. He was awarded a law degree in 1996 from Florida State University, where he was a member of the Moot Court team.
The presenters were very good. Very organized presentation that provided very useful information. I appreciate them being respectful of my time. Great job.
Very informative - excellent presentation.
Both presenters were able to communicate the information in a cooperative way: didn't contradict or step on each other.
The presenters were knowledgeable and highly effective with presenting the information.
For a novice to sport law, this was helpful and insightful.
Ver well done.
Very well done
another interesting topic; thanks
This one was decided of relevant legal precedent.
Very interesting topic.
Well, well prepared! Presenters know what they're talking about!
Impressive presentation, well organized, very informative.
Well prepared and presented
Particularly useful to me as it related to Higher ed issues
Great outlining of the course at the beginning. Very concise with great real world examples.
it was very informative and thorough
Very effective program.
I really enjoyed the more "conversational" presentation with the interplay between the two presenters. Thank you for such a complete overview.
Great presentation on issues in Higher Education.
Good presentation. I wish speakers would work through a hypothetical case so we could see the dynamics of how the investigative process works.
very well done
Presenters worked well together.
Interesting, experience-based knowledge transfer.
Very informative CLE, and it was presented well!
Really good stuff. Excellent speakers!
Excellent presentation. Very well done.
Well done - great presenters
Two of the best presenters I have ever seen.
very thorough. excellent presentation
the laywers were exceptionally knowledgeable, clear, trust-worthy and informative - excellent program
Excellent presentation, and very useful for investigations in other contexts as well.
Excellent, comprehensive and well organized. I highly recommend.
Best CLE this far
This program effectively dealt with the law of the subject and risk management techniques. Informative given the topic.
Best presentation . Knowledge of subject matter and presentation are exemplary.
SPEAKERS VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE
I work in higher education so this topic was particularly relevant.
New issues I was not aware of
Excellent speakers and presentation
Very interesting topic; relevant to current events on college campuses. Both speakers very engaging. Well organized presentation.
Excellent. Really a 5
Helpful, well organized and informative.
The "sports commentator" presentation set up was very creative... kudos!
It was my first online CLE experience and it was very good.