Well, the committee ignored it. Actually,
the committee did not even address why
it did not ... and they said, “We considered
everything,” but never specifically
mentioned the motion to dismiss.
Q: What were the infractions?
A: One big one is that the NCAA enforcement
staff used the bankruptcy proceedings for
Mr. Shapiro to conduct its own investigation.
For example, they would work with Shapiro’s
lawyer to file a notice of deposition in the
bankruptcy court, and they would use that
deposition in the bankruptcy court to ask
questions about the investigation. In other
words, they were perpetrating a fraud in
the bankruptcy court by saying, “We’re
taking these depositions for purposes of the
But they didn’t even say anything about
taking the depositions for purposes of the
investigation. As a lawyer, I think it’s a
pretty big deal.
Q: And the committee refused to hear
your motion about it.
A: It’s almost like they take the position
that the NCAA’s procedures trump the
court of law. That’s not the way I see it.
Q: You've represented some big names in
the world of college coaching, like Lane
Kiffin, Jim O'Brien and John Calipari. Do
you have any personal observations on
A: I've been fortunate enough to have
some really fine clients. The bottom line
is, they’re just people and they like to
have representation; to feel like there’s
someone on their side and cares about
Q: They’re similar to clients you would
represent in traditional legal matters.
A: Very similar. This is the closest I have to
a criminal [defense] practice, because the
reputations and the livelihoods of these
coaches are at risk. When you represent a
client, whether it be a medical devices or
pharmaceutical or chemical client, a lot of
times you’re in a bet-the-company-type
situation. And representing coaches is very
akin to a bet-the-company situation.
Q: Are you a sports fan?
A: I am. I can’t wrestle anymore because
of my knees. That cow’s left the barn a
while ago. But I like to play golf. I enjoy
watching basketball, and I’m obviously a
Syracuse fan. Coach [Jim] Boeheim and I
go back a long way.
Q: You’ve been on both the athletic
advisory board and the law school board
of advisers at Syracuse. You’re probably
the only person to hold both of those
A: I’m very privileged to serve on both of
those boards. Obviously I have a huge debt
of gratitude to Syracuse University. I was
able to go there, spent seven years there. I
met my first wife there. My daughter went
there. So we have quite a legacy.
Q: How much of your workload does your
NCAA practice comprise?
A: About 35 percent. I still do a lot of
medical device and pharmaceutical
defense work. I still do a lot of fiber
products and chemical defense work.
Q: What draws you to defense work?
A: Early on in your career, you have to
sort of pick a side. I just was fortunate
enough to be at a law firm where we did
represent corporations, and I was able
to work in areas and industries where I
had a chance to work with experts, learn
the industry and learn all the good parts
about it. And the bad parts, too. It helps
to defend your client.
Q: What does it take to be a successful
products defense attorney?
A: Take advantage of opportunities. A
CEO for one of my clients said, “I don’t
understand this. You’re on the national
coordinating council for products liability
litigation, and you do sports law. How
do you break that down?” I said, “Well,
basically, it’s opportunities. If you take
advantage of every opportunity you’re
given, you’ll be successful at it.”
Q: Sounds like a sports-related
mentality. Do you to have a particular
A: I like to think I’m reasonable. I think
you’re a projection of your client. So you
want the fact finder, whether it be the
judge or the jury or the Committee on
Infractions, to think you’re reasonable.
Q: I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with a
lawyer who’s won every case they’ve
A: You’re not speaking with one now.
Q: So how do you handle losing?
A: It takes a bit out of you. Every time
you lose a case, your client feels it, and
you feel badly for your client. If you have
a coach who has been found to have
violated ethical conduct, you know that
coach is going to be out of college sports
for a period of time. That’s going to
affect their family, their livelihoods and
their reputations. As a result, you feel
like a piece of you has been cut out.
Q: How do you move on?
A: You pick yourself up, you dust yourself
off. You don’t really have a choice.
Q: What do you know about your job
now that you wish you knew when you
A: I was prepared to work, but I didn’t
appreciate how much I would have to
work, and the travel that goes into it. You
need to be able to be mentally tough.
My dad was the most mentally tough
person. He would never let anything get
him down. He had an even keel, whether
he was successful or unsuccessful in a
situation. And [it’s] the same thing with
some of the coaches I meet. They’re
mentally tough. And that’s something
you just can’t teach.
This interview has been condensed.