Power Players: Executive
Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz
A highly skilled litigator, Wilkinson has handled some of the biggest class-action cases in sports while representing Major League Baseball and the NFL. Perhaps her highest-profile role was in the NFL concussion litigation, which she helped steer toward a settlement. It was Wilkinson who, outside a Philadelphia courthouse in 2013 after a high-profile hearing in the case, forcefully rebutted the charge that the NFL hid the dangers of playing football.
When a colleague seemed to sidestep the question, she stepped in and said, “We strongly deny those allegations.” Wilkinson left the firm of Paul, Weiss earlier this year to co-found Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz.
Glazier virtually invented the sports law practice of defending university athletic departments against the NCAA.
Glazier’s partner when he first started in the 1980s was none other than Mike Slive, who went on to become commissioner of the SEC. Today, Glazier oversees the collegiate sports practice of the Kansas City firm, working closely with Evrard, who joined the firm in 1992 after seven years as an NCAA investigator.
Glazier and Evrard are best known for defending schools when a coach, player or rogue booster runs afoul of NCAA rules. They’ve worked with the likes of Ohio State football and Kansas basketball, helping the schools investigate themselves and recommending a course of action.
The firm’s college practice has expanded into other technical and complex areas, such as student-athlete eligibility and reinstatement, Title IX and other compliance issues. But the crux of the practice remains their expertise in counseling athletic departments when the NCAA comes calling.
Bernstein is a top adviser on sports debt, especially for lenders to borrowers in distressed situations. His dexterity in the finance space has allowed him to easily move from bankruptcy proceedings involving an NHL franchise to the restructuring of a licensed apparel manufacturer. The Boston-based firm also is well-known as a legal adviser to the New England Patriots, and for defending the club in the Deflategate controversy.
London-based Lewis has long been considered one of the top sports lawyers in Europe, regularly advising governing bodies, clubs and individual athletes. Sports he works in, and against, run a wide spectrum, including skiing, swimming, tennis, soccer, rugby and even canoeing. He acts as an arbitrator, is chairman of the UK Athletics Tribunal and co-edits the textbook “Sport: Law and Practice,” which is in its third edition. Lewis now has the attention of professional tennis as he oversees a review of gambling and alleged match fixing in the sport.
Arnold & Porter
A lawyer who has worked with Arnold & Porter for three decades, Garrett represents sports leagues and broadcasters in copyright cases. One of his most notable cases came in 2013 when he represented a group of broadcasters and leagues in convincing the U.S. Supreme Court that Aereo’s streaming service violated copyright law. Currently, Garrett is representing the Washington Redskins in litigation involving the cancellation of the Redskins federal trademark.
Amie Peele Carter
Carter was at the table when Nike and USA Track & Field reset the bar for sports marketing in 2014, advising the governing body on the 23-year contract locking in Nike’s rights. She focuses on intellectual property matters and represents Indianapolis-based national governing bodies in football, gymnastics and diving along with track and field. She also supports U/S Sports Advisors’ work in personality marketing for elite NFL, NASCAR and IndyCar stars.
In 2000, Barrett received a call from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. Barrett and Delany had gone to college together at North Carolina — Delany played basketball and Barrett was a student manager for then-coach Dean Smith. They were friends and had stayed in touch, but this phone call was about business. The Big Ten needed an outside counsel and Delany wanted to hire his old friend from Chapel Hill.
Barrett agreed and since then he’s been by Delany’s side for every major development that has shaped and reshaped the conference: expansion, the formation of the Big Ten Network, media rights negotiations, bowl contracts, intellectual property negotiations, and the new autonomy model for power five conferences. Barrett’s reputation as a media expert has led him to represent close to a dozen regional sports networks over the last 15 years.
Barrett, with home offices in Charlotte and Linville, N.C., retired from Mayer Brown nearly three years ago but remains the Big Ten’s attorney.
Head coaches are kings of the locker room, and Ropes & Gray’s Coleman is the hand of the king. As leader of the firm’s sports/media/entertainment practice, Coleman represents more than 25 active head coaches in contract and sponsorship matters, along with sportscasters Tony Dungy and Dick Enberg. Separately, he represented the NFL when it restructured its NFL On Location hospitality business in 2015, bringing in new owners and diversifying its offerings.
The Charlotte-based partner is deft at navigating complex financial deals. He negotiates loans on behalf of banking institutions that lend to NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL franchises, as well as English Premier League clubs. The MLB commissioner’s office and the NFL have called on him to prepare loan documentation. And two recent deals further demonstrate the scale of his work: advising Bank of America on financing the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, and the refinancing of Manchester United’s debt.
Mike Sheetz, Adam Chase
Having launched its sports practice with several San Francisco-based clients, Cooley has spent the past several years building up a roster of national companies, with a focus on media and technology.
A partner in Cooley’s litigation department, Sheetz focuses on corporate governance, licensing and intellectual property. His clients include the Pac-12, a conference that has sought his counsel as it looks to expand into Asian markets. Sheetz also counts the WTA, Annika Sorenstam, Josh Beckett and Anna Kournikova as clients.
Chase, a partner in the technology transactions group, has been in the middle of several high-profile deals. He represented DraftKings as the daily fantasy company signed several of its deals, including its NASCAR sponsorship and partnership with MLB. Chase also represented the Atlanta Braves as the team negotiated a local TV deal with Fox Sports Group and a naming-rights deal with SunTrust.