Joseph  "Ricky" Lefft

Joseph "Ricky" Lefft

T: 804.977.3309
F: 804.977.3293

Mr. Lefft has significant experience providing legal counsel and representation to intercollegiate and professional coaches, players, athletic directors and team administrators. He has extensive experience in drafting and negotiating coaches’ employment contracts with institutions of higher education and professional teams and handles commercial transactions associated with coaches’ and players’ marketing and advertising endeavors. He also represents coaches and athletes with regard to NCAA compliance and disciplinary matters associated with alleged violations of NCAA and university bylaws, including Title IX issues, banned substances and eligibility disputes. 

With over 30 years of experience as a sports attorney, Mr. Lefft is an active member of the Sports Lawyers Association. He currently serves as legal counsel to the National Association for Coaching Equity and Development (NAFCED), an advocacy and professional development organization focused on enhancing opportunities for racial and ethnic minority coaches and student athletes. He has been a frequent speaker for the Black Coaches Association’s Coaching Excellence Program and the BCA and NCAA’s Expert Coaching Academy. He was a sports law professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management for 14 years.

Memberships & Activities

  • Member: Ohio Bar Association
  • Member: South Carolina Bar Association
  • Member: Sports Lawyers Association
  • Member: University of South Carolina Alumni Association
  • Former Board Member: Special Olympics, South Carolina Chapter
  • Former Board Member: American Cancer Society, Midlands Chapter
  • Former Board Member: Palmetto Health Foundation
  • Former Board Member: University of South Carolina's Alumni Board of Governors


Name, Image and Likeness

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) has enjoyed unprecedented autonomy as a non-profit association representing approximately 1098 member institutions. Its members are both public and private universities and colleges throughout the United States divided into three divisions.  The NCAA enjoys a great degree of latitude in the governance of the association members, their staff and student athletes by virtue of the voluntary nature of its membership. As a condition of membership institutions contractually agree to strictly adhere to the Constitution and Bylaws of the association which restricts the benefits which a member can provide to its student athletes as well as third parties affiliated with the institutions such as alumni and boosters.

Intercollegiate Athletics and Collective Bargaining Agreements

For close to a century, intercollegiate athletics under the umbrella of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (the “NCAA”) has operated under the amateurism model, as propagated by the courts, which have consistently held that athletes are students and not employees of the institutions of higher education in which they matriculate.  Thus the origin of the term “student-athlete”, which is a term of art denoting amateurism.  This determination by the courts, although arguably flawed in its reasoning, has provided substantial economic advantages to many of the NCAA member institutions as they generate large amounts of revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, marketing and sales, lucrative television contracts, merchandising and licensing and sales of paraphernalia to fans with great affinities for their university athletic teams.


Sports Law Newsletter - February 2020

Name, Image and Likeness

The NCAA Investigative Process: Knowledge of the Bylaws Can Make or Break You!

Negotiated Resolutions and the Independent Accountability Resolution Process: Jump in or Walk Away?



Whiteford Expands Sports Law Practice with Addition of Ricky Lefft

Whiteford Taylor & Preston announced today that Joseph R. “Ricky” Lefft has joined the firm.  A leading sports law attorney, Mr. Lefft has over 30 years of experience advising professional athletes, coaches and athletic administrators on their professional and personal business matters.