W. Scott Cole Attorney At Law

W. Scott Cole - Attorney at Law


Higher Education Team Leader

T 407.843.8880
F 407.244.5690
D 407.204.3106
Orlando 301 East Pine Street Suite 1400 Orlando, Florida 32801

Veteran higher education lawyer and consultant with decades of in-house experience. Former general counsel steeped in academy culture representing colleges and universities across Florida.

Scott Cole leads GrayRobinson’s Higher Education Team. He has a unique and intimate understanding of the opportunities, challenges, and constraints facing higher education today, having served as general counsel for the University of Central Florida and associate general counsel for the University of Florida. Scott provides legal counsel and operational consulting for colleges and universities, as well as non-traditional and for-profit educational providers across Florida and nationwide. Notable client relationships include the University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, and Eckerd College.

Scott works closely with key stakeholders on a wide variety of issues, including employment, business transactions, student affairs, policies and procedures, governance, and contracts. He understands the university milieu and collaborates regularly with presidents, leadership, administration, and governing boards. This deep cultural awareness of higher education professionals and their environment allows him to provide both strategic and preventative counsel in this continually evolving space. Scott supports clients in anticipating risk and guides them through emerging and complex issues, including industry consolidation, diversity and inclusion, revenue pressures, and collective bargaining. When issues do arise, Scott has extensive experience in the oversight and successful resolution of disputes and investigations from sexual harassment to student misconduct.

Mindful of avoiding a heavy hand, Scott takes a collaborative and consensus building approach to his work, helping clients make sound decisions, solve problems, and get back to the business at hand. His rich in-house experience includes transactional, regulatory, compliance, and governance issues, as well as issues involving athletics, due process and first amendment, construction, tax-exempt finance, health science campuses technology, Title IX alternative revenue sources, research, federal grants, and the many competing interests that intersect in large and diversified academic communities. Scott teams with GrayRobinson colleagues in the litigation, labor and employment, and corporate practices to round out client service offerings for large and multifaceted projects. 

  • Notable Work
    • Provided leadership, complex legal counsel, and business advice in connection with the establishment of the University of Central Florida’s new College of Medicine, including negotiation of the purchase and gift of private land for the new campus.
    • Spearheaded the first P3 project for a Florida public university, acting as the integral drafter of legislation allowing private financing. Represented the University of Central Florida in a first of its kind $600 million project that included a new football stadium, basketball arena, student housing complex, hundreds of square feet of retail space, and three parking garages. The project was financed without state financial support.
    • Key member of the negotiation team to establish a joint venture teaching hospital with Health Care Corporation of America. The University of Central Florida negotiated 20% equity in the hospital joint venture and 50% of the board seats, with no cash contribution.
    • Mobilized the University of Central Florida’s discounted purchase of Sanford Burnham research facility from Orange County, financed by the County over 30 years at 0% interest.
    • Established P3 Hotel on the University of Central Florida campus with no university investment and annual rent payments and participation in net receipts.
    • Represented the University of Central Florida board of trustees through numerous impasse hearings with faculty union.
    • Served as business point person for building an implementation plan for the University of Central Florida to restructure affiliated corporation operating $120 million research and manufacturing facility.
    • Represented the University of Central Florida in NCAA investigations and hearings, resulting in successful resolution of most issues and reduction of proposed sanctions.
    • Served as primary negotiator and legal advisor for establishment of the National Entrepreneur Center, a resource for small businesses in Central Florida.
    • Spearheaded a $178 million university-based continuing care retirement community, whose affiliation with all university colleges creates unique education, research, and service opportunities for students and faculty and unparalleled life-long learning experiences for residents.
  • Recognition
    • Florida Trend, Legal Elite
  • Insights
    • Co-Presenter, “How to Effectively Work With Public Entities,” Association of Corporate Counsel, Central Florida Chapter, February 23, 2023
    • "NLRB: Dartmouth Basketball Players Considered Employees and Can Unionize," GrayRobinson Higher Education Team Insight, February 15, 2024
    • "528: Crisis Communications in US Higher Education," Employment Law Alliance Podcast, December 12, 2023
    • "Business and Legal Trends in Higher Education," International Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) WebinarAugust 8, 2023
    • "GrayRobinson Higher Education Team: Complying with Florida’s Safety in Private Spaces Act," June 20, 2023
    • "GrayRobinson Higher Education Team: IRS Chief Counsel Issues Memorandum on Tax-exempt Collectives," June 13, 2023
    • "D.C. Briefing: Review of Recent Developments in the Legal Landscape that Impacts U.S. Employers," Employment Law Alliance (ELA) Webinar, November 15, 2022
    • “NIL and Student Athletes as Employees,” the State University System Attorneys Meeting, November 3, 2022 
    • "GrayRobinson Higher Education Team: Temporary Injunction Issued Against Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act” – What this Means for Colleges and Universities," August 30, 2022
    • "GrayRobinson Higher Education Team: Proposed Amendments to the Title IX Regulations," July 11, 2022
    • "Legal Issues and Foundations," Florida Council for Resource Development Spring Conference, April 28, 2022
    • "NLRB: Student Athletes as Employees," Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA) Labor and Employment Luncheon, April 20, 2022
    • Speaker, "When Good Educators do bad things," National Association of College and University Attorney Spring CLE: Managing Faculty Misconduct, March 30, 2022
    • "Faculty Misconduct," NACUA Spring CLE Workshop, March 29, 2022
    • "NLRB: Student Athletes as Employees," Orange County Bar Association, March 11, 2022
    • Presenter, "Implications of recent cases for the future of affirmative action in universities," Employment Law Alliance, D.C. Perspectives Briefing, March 3, 2022
    • "NLRB Releases Memorandum: NCAA Players Considered Employees," GrayRobinson Higher Education E-lert, September 29, 2021
    • "White House Safer Workforce Task Force Issues COVID Safety Protocols For Federal Contractors," GrayRobinson Higher Education E-lert, September 28, 2021
    • "What’s Next After Alston and NIL? College Football Players as Employees?" Daily Business Review, September 22, 2021
    • "What Do NCAA Changes Mean for Athletes and Their Parents?" Bloomberg Law, July 27, 2021
    • "U.S. Supreme Court Renders Decision in NCAA v. Alston," GrayRobinson Higher Education E-lert, July 1, 2021
    • "Preparing Your University for Possible Student-Athlete Compensation for Use of Name, Image, or Likeness (NIL)," GrayRobinson Higher Education E-lert, June 16, 2021
    • "Legislation Filed in Congress Aims to Classify College Athletes as Employees," GrayRobinson Higher Education E-lert, June 4, 2021
    • "The General Counsel as a Strategic Partner with the Business Officer," The National Association of College and University Business Officers Annual Conference, 2017
    • "Legal Roadblocks to University Partnerships," American Association of State Colleges and Universities Task Force of College President, 2017
    • "Dealing with Difficult Situations," NACUA General Counsel Institute, 2017
  • Media
    • "10 Questions With an NIL Expert, Flight Horror Stories," Saturday Down South Podcast, July 1, 2021
    • "Six States Set to Let College Athletes Profit From Name, Image," Washington Times, June 25, 2021
  • Affiliations
    • American Bar Association, Law School Accreditation Team, 2013-present
    • National Association of College and University Attorneys, 1992-present
      • Strategic Planning, Board Operations, and Finance and Audit Committees,  2000-present
    • Small Business Advisory Counsel, Board of Directors, 2012-2020 
  • Credentials
    • J.D., University of Florida Levin College of Law, 1986
    • B.S., University of Florida, 1983
  • Admissions
    • Florida