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Valpo grad lands sports law 'dream job'

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A Valparaiso University School of Law 2006 graduate who participated in the school's Sports Law Clinic, including the clinic's work in Turin, Italy, during the 2006 Winter Olympics, will begin work with the United States Anti-Doping Agency in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 10.

As director of legal affairs for the USADA, Stephen A. Starks will prosecute doping cases against Olympic athletes as well as handle day-to-day matters in USADA's legal office as the "No. 2 of two" lawyers in the office of general counsel. He said he will also be working diligently to get up to speed before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

He is one of the first students of the clinic - started during the 2005-06 school year - to accept a full-time job in sports law with a sports agency.

Starks will remain with Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis until Feb. 29. Prior to his work in private practice, Starks fulfilled a one-year clerkship with Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm.

As a law student, Starks wrote the brief and argued the case for the athlete in USADA vs. George Hartman in 2006. He argued before the American Arbitration Association against USADA's then-general counsel and current CEO Travis Tygart and Bill Bock, the current USADA general counsel.

In an April 2007 interview for a May 2-15, 2007, Indiana Lawyer article, "Team assists athletes," Starks expressed an interest in pursuing sports law.

"My dream is to get into sports law, but as a young lawyer you take the opportunities that are presented to you. So you get with a reputable firm and get involved with clients they have who have a sports interest," Starks said.

Recently, Tygart personally called Starks to officially offer him the job in their legal department.

"It's unique to get an opportunity from the CEO who has had your position," Starks said Feb. 22. "The learning curve is going to be so steep ... you can't ask to be in a better position as far as (having a CEO as a mentor). Very few positions are recruited by the head man."

While Starks said the firm has been "tremendously supportive," he will miss his work in Indianapolis. With parents living in Fort Wayne, he plans to keep up with his Indiana connections, including his Indiana law license.

"Unfortunately, (taking this job) means I have to leave what I consider to be the best firm in our state so quickly," he said. "It is a dream job to be involved with sports not just as far as doing legal work but to also work for a sports entity. I think getting a job with USADA epitomizes that dream."

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