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From Litigation to Unpacking NIL Issues, Sexton Thriving as KC Attorney

June 24, 2020
By Austin Siegel

Curry Sexton is ready to talk about acts of God.

Or student-athlete compensation, the transportation industry and a host of other topics that might come across his desk at the Kansas City law firm of Seigfreid and Bingham.

The seventh-leading pass catcher in K-State history was sworn into the U.S. Court for the Western District of Missouri last summer, but COVID-19 has thrown Sexton plenty of curveballs as he navigates his first year as an attorney.

"There are some days where you look up and it's 11 or 12 at night and you're still trying to crank out some work," he said.

Despite the long hours, Sexton still has time to follow college football and the historic legal challenges that have been as much a story in the world of college sports as any game this year.

Acts of God, though? It's really just a standard contract clause, also known as a force majeure, which can help businesses that can't meet their obligations due to events beyond their control.

"It's such an ambiguous phrase and there hasn't been a lot of litigation over it in years past," Sexton said. "It's going to be very interesting to see how courts interpret that because it's definitely going to get litigated due to COVID-19."

For a young attorney like Sexton, helping clients understand that kind of legalese is just part of life in 2020 – he pointed out that with the economy suffering, law firms are busier than ever.

"The first four to six weeks of the pandemic were a whirlwind," Sexton said. "The number of lawsuits tend to rise because people are seeking every last dollar that's owed to them."

Despite the hectic schedule, Sexton has found time to write about a number of issues for his law firm surrounding name, imagine and likeness compensation for student-athletes.

Beyond his ability to unpack complicated legal phrases, when it comes to understanding the challenges that await students-athletes and the NCAA, Sexton speaks from experience.

There might not be a more productive wide receiver tandem to come through Manhattan than the All-Big 12 duo of Sexton and Tyler Lockett, that helped lead K-State to the Alamo Bowl in 2014.

In the history of K-State football, no pair of receivers have combined for more double 100-yard games (13) and only 12 Wildcats have more career receiving yards than Sexton.

More than just stat-stuffers, the 2014 senior class posted a 38-14 record during Sexton's college career with appearances in the Cotton, Fiesta, Buffalo Wild Wings and Alamo Bowl.

After graduation and a stint with the Minnesota Vikings as an invitee to their rookie minicamp, Sexton made the move to law school at Washburn University, where he served as a judicial extern at the Kansas Court of Appeals and wrote for his school's law journal.

In a recent article NCAA Takes Step Toward Allowing Student-Athletes to Earn Compensation Through Endorsements and Promotions, Sexton outlined some of the challenges and guardrails that will be necessary after the NCAA's April announcement that it would support rule changes.

"The name, image and likeness stuff is going to change the landscape completely," he said. "The minute you allow individual states to determine the law with respect to NILs and there's no uniform set of regulations that apply, it's going to change everything in college sports."

Sexton focused on the limitations of what would be a historic agreement on NIL activities. In the NCAA's April recommendations, Sexton singled out the fact that student-athletes would be allowed to use their sport and school towards compensation, but not school or conference logos.

Additionally, he stressed that schools will be prohibited from any activities that could be interpreted as "pay for play" and a third party could play a role in regulating NIL activities.

"Anything that's in the student-athletes best interest is also in the university's best interest," Sexton said. "There's so much to learn, but I've been very intrigued by these NIL issues."

When he looks back on his time as a K-State student-athlete, Sexton said he credits his coach for positioning a team that achieved so much on the field for success after graduation.

"Coach Snyder's program and K-State really gave us a platform to springboard into the real world. The nature of Coach Snyder's program was very rigorous and detail-oriented," he said. "I think most guys who played for him would agree that once you get into the real world, you're very prepared for that because of his program. I've heard similar things about Coach Klieman."

Watching the Wildcats feels a little different these days, as Sexton pointed out the 2019 season was the first in which none of the current players were one of his former teammates, but the connections from his time in Manhattan remain strong.

Sexton said he still texts with a group chat full of seniors from the 2014 season every day.

In addition to Wildcats like Lockett and B.J. Finney who are playing in the NFL, Sexton said he has kept in touch with former teammates pursuing a range of different careers paths.

"For four or five years, we did the same thing every single day, aside from classes," Sexton said. "Now, everybody is doing something completely different from one another and that's been really fascinating."

His class might have different careers and more than a few different zip codes, but Sexton said that's just another reason he's excited to watch the next generation of the Wildcats.

"The uncertainty is very exciting. I think some people look at the players that we lost after a really solid year," Sexton said. "But for me, it's just really exciting."

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Austin Siegel, or Ryan Lackey.


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