Christian Dennie is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator with a focus on commercial matters and sports law, including matters related to intercollegiate and professional athletics, league governance, and collective bargaining, who has served clients all across Texas and nationally in a myriad of legal disputes and negotiations. Christian has developed a practice of representing trade associations, unions, and conferences, including non-profit organizations and associations, involved in the sports industry from start-up through negotiations and litigation.
Prior to joining Barlow Garsek & Simon, Christian worked in the athletics departments at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Missouri. Since his return to private practice, Christian has continued to work with and advise clients in the sports industry, including professional athletes, student-athletes, coaches, conference offices, institutions, recruiting services, sports equipment providers and retailers, sports unions and trade associations, and professional sports franchises and related entities, in litigation, NCAA investigations and compliance matters, drug test appeals, and negotiating and drafting of agreements. Christian has drafted and negotiated, among other things, coaches' contracts, facilities agreements, sponsorship and marketing agreements, drug test policies, compliance and recruiting manuals, conference constitutions and bylaws, sexual harassment and misconduct policies, and collective bargaining agreements. Christian also commonly works with coaches and current and retired athletes in career planning and structuring, branding, estate planning and asset protection, non-profit formation, and corporate formation.
Christian is often asked to speak on topics related to sports law and has lectured or served as a presenter or panelist at events held by, among others, Harvard Law School, Duke Law School, SMU Dedman School of Law, University of Virginia School of Law, University of Mississippi School of Law, Big 12 Conference, NCAA, and Lone Star Conference and has been interviewed by media outlets for stories relating to athletics that have been featured in SI.com, ESPN.com, Golfchannel.com, USA Today, New York Times, Fort Worth Star Telegram, and several others.
Christian has drafted numerous publications relating to the sports industry and various commercial matters including matters relating to antitrust, labor law, intellectual property, league governance, sexual harassment and misconduct, coaching contracts, Title IX, and defamation. His articles have been published by journals at the University of Mississippi, Syracuse University, University of Arkansas, University of Virginia, University of Texas, Seton Hall University, and Tulane University and also in industry publications such as the Texas Bar Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, Andrews Entertainment Industry Litigation Reporter, Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, and the Sports Litigation Alert. Christian is also the principal drafter of the College Sports Law Blog (http://www.bgsfirm.com/college-sports-law-blog), which is updated regularly to follow the trends in intercollegiate athletics and provide commentary on legal events relating to intercollegiate athletics. Christian can also be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/christiandennie.
Christian is an arbitrator and mediator serving in disputes relating to business, commercial, construction, employment, intellectual property, labor, personal injury, real estate, and sports matters. He is a panelist serving as a neutral for disputes presented to the American Arbitration Association (AAA), United States Council for International Business (USCIB), and Resolute Systems. Christian is also available to serve as an early neutral evaluator, private judge, referee, umpire, and special master.
In addition to his sports practice, Christian has tried more than forty cases, bringing them before judges, juries, administrative panels, and arbitrators, and has argued before the courts of appeals and administrative bodies. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of areas of law, including sports, commercial litigation, tort litigation, estate planning and probate, employment and labor law, products liability, and real estate including municipalities, churches, small and large businesses, real estate owners, brokers, agents, and developers, construction companies, consumers, retailers and wholesalers. Christian brings an aggressive, yet conscientious, approach to litigation that has produced successful results for his clients at the trial and appellate levels.
While in college, Christian played centerfield for the Sam Houston State University baseball team while graduating in only 3 years.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Business and Tort Litigation
- Employment and Labor
- Estate Planning and Asset Protection
- Intellectual Property
- Products Liability
- Real Estate
- Sports Law
Selected Representation Experience
The following are examples of services previously provided (results may vary), but is in no way an exhaustive list of prior representation:
- Represented student-athletes, coaches, and institutions throughout the country in a variety of NCAA investigations and compliance matters and prepared waivers of NCAA and conference rules relating to eligibility, amateurism, medical hardships, NLI appeals, drug test appeals, gambling, financial aid, recruiting, and other NCAA compliance matters.
- Represented college conferences and reviewed and drafted facility use agreements for football festivals held at an NFL stadium and agreements relating to men’s and women’s basketball championship events, drafted conference constitutions and bylaws, advised on conference realignment, and consulted on NCAA compliance matters.
- Represented a high school football recruiting service with a regional television show regarding issues with NCAA compliance, drafted waivers of liability, reviewed and drafted other contractual agreements including broadcast agreements, and filed and protected its intellectual property holdings through cease and desist communications.
- Conducted independent investigation on behalf of a Division I institution regarding the alleged improper treatment and harassment of student-athletes by members of the coaching staff.
- Drafted sponsorship agreements and ground leases for a new university golf course and facilities.
- Drafted recruiting manuals, compliance manuals, drug test policies and procedures, sexual misconduct and harassment policies, and athlete-agent programs and applications in compliance with NCAA, institutional, and state regulations.
- Served as general counsel for a union overseeing the interests of professional referees in collective bargaining negotiations, employee matters, and litigation.
- Served as general counsel for a trade association overseeing the interests of professionals involved in the sports industry during negotiations with a professional sports organization, negotiations with third-parties for marketing and sponsorship agreements, negotiated with insurance and retirement professionals for association-wide programs, and organized and filed for non-profit status.
- Represented a professional sports franchise and related entities in fan behavior litigation in which a fan was injured prior to an event and alleged that the professional sports franchise failed to provide proper security and policies and procedures for injuries that occur on premise.
- Drafted endorsement and player agreements for a traveling street basketball tour with a national television show and an international tour including agreements for street ball legends and former NBA stars.
- Represented and advised athlete agents before administrative and regulatory bodies relating to alleged improper recruiting practices.
Athletes and Coaches
- Represented and defended a professional athlete in civil litigation in which the athlete was accused of injuring an individual and obtained dismissal of the case within 30 days without the athlete providing any form of compensation to the plaintiff.
- Represented athletes in drug test appeals relating to the alleged ingestion of performance enhancing substances before various administrative and governing bodies and tribunals.
- Represented coaches in their career progression and branding including the negotiation and drafting of employment agreements.
- Provided counsel for athletes and coaches for estate planning, entity formation, and asset protection including drafting of wills, trusts, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, non-profit organizations, and other entities.
- Drafted cease and desist letters for athletes seeking to protect their intellectual property holdings and rights of publicity.
Commercial/Business/Intellectual Property Litigation
- Defended and obtained a take nothing verdict at trial on behalf of a construction contractor in a breach of contract action and obtained a verdict in favor of client on counterclaims for fraud, conversion, and harassment. Affirmed on appeal by the Fort Worth Court of Appeals.
- Defended and represented an apparel manufacturer in a matter brought against the company by a professional athlete arguing that his right of publicity had been violated including such representation in ICANN proceedings.
- Overturned a default judgment on a restricted appeal and recovered damages at an arbitration proceeding in favor of an international product manufacturer.
- Defeated requests for a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction in a matter in which plaintiff attempted to show shareholder oppression and assertions that board members were involved in fraudulent activity.
- Represented comedians in copyright proceedings brought under the Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act relating to comedy material that was inappropriately used and sold by a third-party for profit.
- Represented and enforced non-compete and non-solicitation agreements on behalf of a client in the technology sector when several employees left the company for a competitor.
Real Estate/Construction Litigation
- After a two week trial obtained a favorable settlement whereby client received real property in Denton and Dallas counties valued at over $35 million, including a $16 million shopping center.
- Defended and obtained a take nothing summary judgment securing the dismissal of inverse condemnation claims under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and state law private nuisance claims in federal court on behalf of a municipality pertaining to the construction of Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the traffic management plan for events. Defendant’s summary judgment was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit on appeal.
- After being retained three years following the initiation of the lawsuit obtained a take nothing summary judgment on behalf of real estate agents charged with negligence, fraud, fraud in a real estate transaction, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act by asserting previously un-pled affirmative defenses and obtained dismissal in only three months.
Negligence/Products Liability Litigation
- Obtained a directed verdict at trial in a premises liability action on behalf of a membership wholesale club chain.
- Obtained a take nothing summary judgment on behalf of a retail sporting goods provider relating to negligent activity in an East Texas location.
- Obtained a take nothing summary judgment on behalf of an international boxing equipment manufacturer in litigation pertaining to faulty manufacturing and design of products.
Document Preparation, Drafting, and Negotiations
- Drafted a separation and buyout agreement on behalf of an advertising agency separating the firm from a founding shareholder.
- Drafted sexual misconduct policies and procedures for religious organizations.
- Drafted document retention policies and procedures for an international window and door manufacturer.
- Negotiated and drafted marketing agreements for a marketing company specializing in the creation of insurance products and trusts for sale nationally.
- Negotiated and drafted agreements for a national advertising campaign for a Texas based advertising firm.
Reported and Unreported Appellate Cases
Sadeghian v. Hudspeth, 2012 Tex. App. LEXIS 7323 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth Aug. 30, 2012, no pet.).
Watts Water Techs., Inc. v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 2010 Tex. App. LEXIS 3638 (Tex. App.--Austin May 14, 2010, no pet.).
Enclave Arlington Assocs. Ltd. P’ship v. City of Arlington, 401 Fed. Appx. 936 (5th Cir. 2010).
Enclave Arlington Assocs. Ltd. P’ship v. City of Arlington, 669 F. Supp. 2d 735 (N.D. Tex. 2009).
Residential Dynamics, LLC v. Loveless, 186 S.W.3d 192 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 2006, no pet.).
Licensed/Admitted to Practice
- State Bar of Texas
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Western District of Texas
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
- University of Oklahoma College of Law (2004)
- Sam Houston State University (2001)
- Texas A&M University School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Sports Law and Deposition Skills Workshop, 2007-Present
- Southern Methodist University, Adjunct Professor of Sports Law and Cases of Sports Law, 2014-Present
- University of Missouri School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Sports Law, 2007
Honors and Achievements
- Academic All-Southland Conference
- Graduated from undergraduate school in three years
- SHSU Lettermen’s Association
- National Association for Athletics Compliance
- Sports Lawyer’s Association
- Texas Young Lawyers Association
- American Bar Association
- Tarrant County Bar Association
- Dallas County Bar Association
- Denton County Bar Association
Selected Lectures, Panels, and Presentations
- Presenter, Be a Champion: The Steps to Institutional Control, Lone Star Conference Summer Compliance Workshop, Allen, Texas, June 2014.
- Panelist, Sports & Entertainment Law Symposium, Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas, April 2014.
- Discussion Leader, Let’s Talk, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, March 2014.
- Panelist, The 4thAnnual Duke Sports & Entertainment Law Symposium, Duke University School of Law , Durham, North Carolina, February 2014.
- Panelist, 2013 NCAA Sports Wagering Conference, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, October 2013.
- Panelist, Fighting for Control in Entertainment and Sports, University of Texas School of Law, Austin, Texas, September 2013.
- Panelist, 2013 College Sport Research Institute Conference, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, April 2013.
- Panelist, 16th Annual Entertainment & Sports Law Symposium, University of Miami School of Law, Miami, Florida, April 2013.
- Panelist, The Changing Economics of the Sports and Entertainment Industries, Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina, January 2013.
- Presenter, Protecting Against Sexual Harassment in Intercollegiate Athletics, Lone Star Conference Workshop, Allen, Texas, June 2012.
- Panelist, The State of Sports Law, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia, March 2012.
- Panelist, The Bowl Championship Series and Conference Realignment, University of Mississippi School of Law, Oxford, Mississippi, March 2012.
- Panelist, The BCS and the Future of Big-Time College Football, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, November 2011.
- Presenter, Institutional Control in Division II, Heartland Conference Fall Meeting, DFW, Texas, September 2011.
- Presenter, Compliance Champion: A Guide to Institutional Control, Lone Star Conference Summer Compliance Workshop, Allen, Texas, June 2011.
- Presenter, Too Much Talk: Does the BCS Violate Antitrust Laws or Not?, Tarrant County Bench Bar Conference, Possum Kingdom, Texas, April 2011.
- Panelist, The Changing Face of Intercollegiate Athletics: Amateurs, Academics, and the Athletic Arms Race, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 2011.
- Panelist, Sports Law, Southern Methodist University, Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas, October 2010.
- Panelist, NCAA High School Review Process, Big 12 Conference Summer Rules Workshop, Dallas, Texas, June 2007.