MBA candidate publishes case for equal pay

As a nonprofit attorney, earning her JD from the University of Michigan, Sarah Pack is not your typical MBA student. While in the classroom, Pack studies sport entertainment management, but in her “off” time, she works as a practicing attorney with aspirations of pursuing a career in sports operations or marketing.
“This program has been so great at opening doors and expanding my network, so I hope to find a position through one of those connections that will allow me to use the experience and insights I gained from my MBA and my analytical thinking from my legal background,” said Pack.
Pack has already begun combining those interests by earning herself a spot in the Northeastern University Law Review—a rare accomplishment for a master’s candidate.
Dr. Bob Heere, director of sport entertainment management, recognized Pack’s unconventional background and offered her a chance to substitute the legal issues course typically required of students for a chance to participate in an independent study project. Jumping at the opportunity, Pack chose to research the highly publicized legal battle of equal pay for the US national women’s soccer team.
“I wanted to write about the topic because I am a passionate follower of women's soccer and the lawsuit was heavily in the news around the time Dr. Heere and I were discussing what my independent study project should look like,” explained Pack.
Arguing that US Soccer, as a nonprofit, should adopt an equal pay standard for the women’s national team “as a matter of policy to further its tax-exempt purposes,” Pack’s study closely analyzed legal arguments made against the federation.
On the evening her paper was due, however, the district court ruled against equal pay, causing Pack to make an unanticipated pivot.
“It is difficult to research and write about an ever-evolving topic. I knew it was possible that the district court would rule on both sides' summary judgment motions before I completed my first draft of the paper for my independent study, but I did not anticipate the ruling would happen on the very same evening the paper was due.”
Heere still saw great potential in Pack’s study though, and reached out to sport law professor at the University of Georgia, Dr. Thomas Baker, to strategize a way to make it publishable.
“I restructured it into a law review article and focused less on the tit-for-tat legal arguments and more on the limitations of the federal Equal Pay Act in addressing and rectifying the team's claims. The article also analyzes the district court's ruling dismissing the Equal Pay Act claims and makes recommendations for how a settlement may be achieved as the women's national team pursues an appeal of the dismissal. It also retains and further develops the argument that both the US Soccer Federation and FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, should adopt an equal pay standard to further their nonprofit missions,” explained Pack.
Not long after, Pack, Heere and Baker received word that the paper, “One nation, two teams: The U.S. Women’s National Team’s fight for equal pay,” was accepted in The Northeastern University Law Review.
Given the opportunity, Pack hopes to further her research analysis by examining equal pay disputes in other national federations as well—comparing the US women’s soccer team with other international women’s teams whose federations lack a strong history of supporting their women’s teams.