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Volume 22 No. 12
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Sports Lawyers: Woodie Dixon

Woodie Dixon found himself, not surprisingly, working long hours when he entered the legal profession.

“Once you realize at a law firm that you’re going to spend a lot of hours working, you figure you might as well do it on something you love,” Dixon said. “And for me, that’s sports. … I’m not like a lot of these young guys who are going to law school now knowing that they want to get into sports. I didn’t know that I’d wind up in sports when I was in law school. But it ultimately was the way for me to combine my passion with what I do.”

Photo by: Heather Vaughn / Pac-12
Dixon was active in sports as a youngster, playing soccer and hockey as he grew up in Minneapolis. But it wasn’t until he was working for corporate law firms that he saw a path into sports law.

He went back to college a third time at the University of Massachusetts for sports management and that led to positions with the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs, before he landed at the Pac-12. In two years at the conference, Dixon has been integral in the record $3 billion media rights deal with ESPN and Fox, and the formation of Pac-12 Enterprises.

He also oversees football for the conference, which can put him among coaches, athletic directors, officials and media partners at any given time.

“You’re not so much a lawyer as you are a mediator,” Dixon said. “The gist of being a good sports lawyer is getting everyone to a happy place. The thing about sport is that everyone is a competitor, everyone is trying to win and everyone can’t always win. Everybody’s not always going to be happy, but you’ve got to somehow make them think they’ve won.”

— Michael Smith