DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the 41-year-old National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), will be the 2011 spring commencement speaker at the University of Maryland, College Park on May 19.

Smith is a staunch advocate of players’ rights and has played a critical role in the collective bargaining agreement between players and league owners. The University of Maryland’s decision comes at a time when Smith is going through an ugly labor fight that may force NFL owners to lock out players for the 2011 season.

Smith previously worked as an attorney and litigation partner at Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C. A current resident of Bethesda, Md., Smith has defended individual’s criminal cases and congressional investigations, also defending Fortune 500 companies in criminal and civil cases.

UMCP’s commencement takes place May 19, 10 a.m., at the Comcast Center. For more information visit