I never knew Dean Smith, but his former players worship him. Jerry Tarkanian was a client. He may not have taken Phi Beta Kappas in but he dearly, truly cared about his “boys,” including having tutors for them.

I owe a huge debt to my Dean/Shark, whose name was Norm Peek. Peek was the supervising deputy at the California Attorney General’s Office and one of the finest trial lawyers I have ever met. He taught me how to do everything from trying a case to ethically fighting one. He always would say, “give people an out as you are going to need one yourself one day.”  Notoriously anti-social, he honored me by coming to my wedding. What little contribution I have made to the profession I owe to his care and feeding. All young attorneys should be as lucky. Firms grow and prosper (or not) to the degree that senior lawyers invest in their young charges. A good lesson for us all.

Since I wrote this post in February 2013, Alex Collins has weathered his mother’s attempt to keep him from enrolling at the University of Arkansas and become one of the best, if not perhaps the most underrated, running back in the country. Through eight games this year for a surprisingly competitive (they lost to Alabama 14-13 and beat Texas A&M 35-28) Razorbacks team, Alex has rushed for 747 yards on 118 carries (6.3 yards per carry) for scored 9 touchdowns. In his freshman year, he justified his choice by carrying the ball 190 times for over a thousand yards. He is clearly a talented running back, even if he’s splitting carries with a talented upperclassman (Jonathan Williams, 830 yards).

After the news of Alex’s mother running off with his letter of intent and reports of family pressure to play close at home at the University of Miami broke, I think many felt like there were uglier issues at play: promises from boosters; favors; money. In the end, Alex followed the coach, Bret Bielema, and switched his commitment from Wisconsin to Arkansas. His mother wasn’t in that decision-making process and acted irrationally. Considering Arkansas’s struggles at that point, she might not have been unjustified in her concern.

While no similar issues about parental interference have emerged lately, it is an issue we can expect to see again in the future. For now, the next question may be whether Alex turns pro after next year. We’ll see what his mother thinks about that…

For more back story and a bit more information on letters of intent, please see below my interview on the topic with LXBN TV.

Buckeye Cardale Jones tweets that classes are pointless. And perhaps they are for him. Our summer associate for next year spent seven years working construction before going to college. Some things just mean more to us at different periods of our lives. My torts professor used to say that no one should be allowed to go to law school before age 27.  And then there is Rod Stewart, "Why Go to School to Learn the Words of Fools"…..Itchy Koo Park.

Ex Bruin, All American and former national player of the year Ed O’Bannon is suing the NCAA for using his image without his permission. O’Bannon, who has always appeared as a man of immense dignity, sells cars in Las Vegas, the last I heard, so he certainly has an economic reason to file suit. The decision to allow the case to proceed has been profiled in USA Today and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

While the article was written awhile ago, I recently asked a good friend about it. The friend was a major retailer in town before he retired, is a huge basketball fan and is not fond of lawyers. Here is his lay view:


“Clearly the NCAA should clearly state, in their scholarship agreements, their intentions with respect to commercial use of images.  In fact, a "miranda" type announcement separately signed by the players should be required.  

Even with that , their is a difference (to me) between using photographs and film of players versus using their electronic ’embodiment’ in a video game, especially one that is interactive.  An audio/video/visual record of a player in college is one thing but the creation of a virtual ‘likeness’ is quite beyond that.   

Does the NCAA claim that they have the right to have an electronic interactive all star game featuring say Bill Russel, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor etc without compensating the players?  

I suppose that one might make the argument that their is a substantitive difference between using a player while he is on scholarship as opposed to later after he had cemented hall of fame credentials in the pros.”


I do not want this to be another hosanna about the evils of money in college sports, but with rich new contracts, and rich new penalties against USC, Ohio State and Miami, perhaps we are at the watershed.

The LA Times sports section of July 26, 2011 featured a young basketball player from Florida who is in the national high school tourney in Vegas. He is 5′ 11" going on wow. Apparently, no one had ever heard of him before the tournament.

Moral is that in both sports and law, we grow at different speeds. I had an associate who started at a large firm in a small town. By the time he hit L.A. , he had done virtually every type of litigation because they had given him an opportunity to handle cases in a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere than in a large city.


I cut my teeth at the State Attorney General’s Office where the encyclical was that first case to be tried should be in a rural county with small city jurors. My first case was as police brutality matter with a talking jury. First question from the jury was, "What kind of a name is Kravitz?"  If I had blinked, I would have lost him. "Polish Jewish, sir."  A good friend went from the City Attorney of Fresno to head of business affairs at a major studio. When asked by young lawyers how to get into entertainment law, his response was, "Move to Fresno!."

On July 21, 2010, USC announced appointment of former professional quarterback Pat Haden as their new athletic director.  Hayden is a lawyer by profession, having gone to Loyola Law, my alma mater.

My favorite story involves a friend (not a sports fan) meeting Haden on a line (before there was online) to buy books.  Hayden, who is not a large guy, asked my buddy what he did in his spare time and my friend replied that he played handball. Pat’s response was that he played a little football.  My friend responded that "I always considered those guys to be jock brains" completely unaware that Haden was a phi beta kappa and former Rhodes Scholar. Enchanted with someone who did not love him for his place on the field, the two became fast friends.


By the way, perfect choice for a school under heavy fire. Pick a guy who knows the law and has been trained to follow it.

As featured in sportsillustrated.com’s “Where’s the sportsmanship? Girl Disqualified for wearing bracelet,” a coach waited until the opposition cleared her pole vault and then had her disqualified for wearing a friendship ring. Perhaps the most famous legal quote is from Dickens…."The law is a ass, a idiot"(sic) . We do not cultivate respect for law with such rules.

In rivals.com’s article, “Kentucky flopped in the classroom in Calipari’s first season,” two items caught our eye. First, John Calipari’s Kentucky basketball team got barely passing grades in the classroom.  School is not for everyone, and it appears time for the NBA and NCAA to huddle on the "one and done" rule, particularly when the best and basketball brightest can go to Europe for a year to circumvent. Has anyone talked with any of the one year guys to see if they found that year of college to be worthwhile outside the arena?

Second, and more positively, UCLA Center for African American Studies just honored Harry Edwards. Mr. Edwards served for years as professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. He organized the ’68 protest by Black athletes that dramatized the barriers confronting Blacks in sports and society. Mr. Edwards went on to serve as consultant on diversity for the three major sports, including a stint with the Golden State Warriors and the development of the Minority Coaches Internship and Outreach Program with the Forty Niners. Why not reach out again to a pioneer and see if he can work through some of these issues? Society and the athletes deserve it.

The law of contracts is designed to bind two or more parties to an agreement. You do "x" and I will do "y," and if you do not, I will go running to court to enforce the promise or collect damages. Letters of intent are designed to bind athletes to schools. And while no one goes to court to enforce them (at least as far as we know) it does get tricky for athletes to transfer after they start at a school and play for a team.

Enter Brandon Knight, who has signed an aid agreement, but not a letter of intent at University of Kentucky, as reported by Michael Rosenberg on ESPN.com’s article UK recruit Knight a game-changer even before he enters school. Is it a contract?  Well, it is a promise by the school to give Mr. Knight a college education and at least from the outside looks to be a four-year commitment as opposed to traditional athletic situations where the school can drop you after a year.  As pointed out by the author, this one, on which the athlete pleads ignorance, may have as much to do with the jumpiness of Kentucky’s coach as anything else.  


Still, we may be looking at a different paradigm in the world of athletic college contracts. Was it only two years ago that athletes decided to defeat the pros ban on signing youngsters by starting their careers in Europe?  Let’s see if this is a one off or the start of something new.