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BARBARA J. OSBORNE, JD '82

BA, Communication

Barbara J. Osborne, JD. is a Professor with a joint appointment in Exercise and Sport Science and the School of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She directs the graduate program in Sport Administration, which was the first in the U.S. to focus solely on college sport.  She also started the undergraduate program in sport administration and a dual degree program in law and sport administration.  Osborne also advises the Sport and Entertainment Law Student Association and the UNC NIL Pro Bono Project. Over her career, she has created and taught 15 different undergraduate, graduate, and law school courses including first year seminars and study abroad and has mentored more than 100 graduate students through their thesis research.  UNC has recognized Osborne with two university teaching awards and the North American Society for Sport Management presented her with the Distinguished Educator Award in 2021. Additionally, Osborne works as a consultant for school systems, schools and athletics programs providing Title IX education, evaluations and audits, and as a court-appointed Title IX compliance monitor.

Osborne’s current academic research focuses on legal issues in intercollegiate athletics, gender equity and discrimination in sport, and medical issues in sport.  She is the co-author of three books (including the most widely used sports law textbook, now in its 5th edition). She has written 33 book chapters for various sport law and sport management texts, published 44 articles in academic journals, with another 38 invited publications. Osborne has shared her expertise in 118 academic research presentations at scholarly conferences and an additional 104 invited lectures and presentations.  Her scholarly work was recognized by the Sport and Recreation Law Association in 2014 with the Betty van der Smissen Leadership Award and she was a member of the inaugural class of SRLA Research Fellows (2012). 

Prior to her academic career at UNC, Osborne worked in the sport industry in college athletics administration, coaching, and as a public relations coordinator, television sports commentator, publisher and sports information director.  She is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and Massachusetts, served as General Counsel for the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), and worked for Ice Miller LLP in their collegiate sports practice group.  She has also served as the Chair of the Sport and Entertainment Law section of the North Carolina Bar Association and continues to serve on the council.  Osborne is an active member of the Sport Lawyers Association, North American Society for Sport Management, and the Sport and Recreation Law Association.

A life-long athlete, Barbara was inducted into the Kenosha Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 for her pioneering achievements in cross country and track at Mary D. Bradford High School and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 as a member of the 1980 National Championship cross country team.  She was also recognized with the Jeanne Rowlands Award for Outstanding Achievement in Women’s Sports by the Massachusetts Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1998.

Osborne’s education includes degrees in Communications (University of Wisconsin-Parkside, 1982), Sport Management (Boston University, 1989) and Law (Boston College Law School, 1997). 

Headshot barbara Osborne
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