SBJ/March 3-9, 2014/Opinion

Schmidt honor well-deserved

Having had the privilege of personally watching Bill Schmidt as vice president, sports marketing, pioneer the Gatorade brand for Quaker Oats and define the gold standard for sports beverage marketing, I was not at all surprised to see his being honored as an inductee in the 2014 Class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business (SportsBusiness Journal, Feb. 17-23, 2014).

My years as an attorney with Quaker Oats in its corporate offices overlapped significantly with Mr. Schmidt’s and allowed me the opportunity to provide legal support for and be a part of many of his projects, including the Michael Jordan/Gatorade sponsorship agreement and the Gatorade Ironman. He truly had a passion for and was able to lead a team culture, even to the extent of always seeing the benefit of engaging the Quaker lawyers as bringing value to the process and not just as potential “deal killers.”

But to me, the biggest compliment of Mr. Schmidt’s professional career and successes was a spontaneous and very honest reaction by Jerry Reinsdorf when I had the opportunity to speak with him in 1994. Mr. Reinsdorf, owner and chairman of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox and just coming off three consecutive NBA titles by the Bulls (1991-93), upon the mention of Mr. Schmidt’s name, immediately reacted with all due respect for the man and more than just a hint of envy: “Boy, I wish I had his job.” Enough said.

Gerry Cassioppi
Naperville, Ill.


Cassioppi is former counsel at The Quaker Oats Co.
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