If you’re anything like Obama and Kentucky politicians (and not Erin Andrews), you’re filling out your brackets for the kickoff of March Madness on Thursday. And if you take a close look below, it’s obvious to see that the East and South have the Midwest and West beat when it comes to random legal facts.
We at Bitter Lawyer want to make all things relevant to lawyers, so here are 20 random facts about the coaching staffs of the 2010 NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams that are either legal-, law school- or lawyer-related. It’s a smorgasbord of anything and everything we could dig up.
Employment lawyers—AKA fun assassins—will tell you that office pools are technically illegal, but screw it. Besides, bracketology has never been easier in California than this year.
Hopefully the following factoids bias your picks in a really erroneous way.
• Tom Izzo, the $3-million-a-season head coach of the Michigan State University men’s basketball program, spoke at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School panel on sports and entertainment law last September.
• Maryland head coach Gary Williams’ first head coach gig was at American University. He was succeeded by Ed Tapscott (then 28 years old) in the spring of 1982. Tapscott “had become a part-time assistant at American to pay his way through law school, and he completed his degree before becoming head coach.” Tapscott was American’s first black coach, and he considered leaving coaching to practice law before his breakthrough at AU.
• Though Georgetown’s current head coach, John Thompson III, isn’t a lawyer, two previous head coaches were: James Colliflower (uh, in like the early 1900’s) and Craig Esherick. Esherick was Thompson III’s immediate predecessor who coached from 1999-2004 after Thompson III’s father, John Thompson, abruptly resigned after 27 seasons.
UC SANTA BARBARA
• UC Santa Barbara head coach Bob Williams is easily confused with UC Santa Barbara alum and Sheppard Mullin partner Robert Williams.
• Butler head coach Brad Stevens is married to Tracy Stevens, a labor and employment attorney. Stevens says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of his wife. “[Interviewer]: Tracy, you did his first contract, right? Tracy Stevens: I did. Well, I am a labor and employment attorney, so I write employment contracts every day. So it just made sense. And usually when you are getting that offer, it’s a pretty quick turnaround. So Brad called and said, ‘I have a contract, I need you to look at it.’ And I have never been so happy to look at a contract before. Brad Stevens: I said, ‘Don’t be too critical, let’s just do this and be done with it.’ I then joked and said, ‘I am the only coach in the country paying 100 percent to his attorney.’”
• John Calipari, the 2009 Sports Illustrated National Coach of the Year, has been the men’s head coach at the University of Kentucky since last March. But in 1996, Calipari led the University of Massachusetts to its first-ever appearance in the Final Four only to have the team’s 4-1 tournament record vacated when the NCAA discovered that Minuteman player Marcus Camby had accepted nearly $28,000 in money and gifts from wannabe sports agent Wesley S. Spears. Spears was a trial lawyer who gave money to Camby and his friends—up to $300 a week in an alleged effort to represent Camby after he turned professional. Spears was later arrested and charged with “attempted extortion and with promoting prostitution” for allegedly convincing and paying a law client, Shalija Castaneda, to have sex with Camby and two friends in their UMass dorm.
• University of Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan shares attorney Tim Valentyn with fellow coaches such as Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and University of Minnesota Head Football Coach Tim Brewster.
• Assistant coach Paul Harrison was added to the Wofford men’s basketball coaching staff in 2007 by head coach Mike Young. Harrison earned his JD at Tulane University Law School, and during the 2006-07 season, while practicing law in New Orleans, Harrison assisted at Metairie Country Day and helped the club to the 2007 Louisiana 1A state championship game.
• One of the biggest influences on Marquette men’s basketball is Dick Strong. Strong had a multi-billion-dollar mutual fund company that was busted by former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer and accused Strong of improper trading. Strong settled for $175 million and eventually sold his company—with nearly $34 billion in assets—to Wells Fargo. Strong is now a major donor to the athletic department and even interviewed basketball head coach Buzz Williams before he was hired. But his involvement is kept mum, and no one, including Williams, will comment publicly on Strong’s influence.
• Lindsay Purnell, daughter of Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell, is a law student at Wake Forest.
• Former Missouri head coach from 1999-2006, Quin Snyder, was a graduate of Duke Law.
• Morgan State hired head coach Todd Bozeman in 2006 after an eight-year ban from NCAA. In 1996, Bozeman, then 29 and head coach of the Golden Bears at the University of California at Berkeley, was the youngest head coach to reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. The ban came after Bozeman admitted he had paid a recruit’s family $30,000. That same year, he also had to stand before a judge in an Oakland courtroom regarding a restraining order issued against him by a Cal undergraduate who claims he sexually harassed her after he sank $2K into her “investment club” that ended up being an illegal pyramid scheme. (Bozeman said he lent the money to Wilson to help her pay for law school.) The first coach to ever be hired following such an NCAA ban, Bozeman also faced an assault charge in 2007 after pushing a restaurant employee when his team’s order wasn’t fulfilled. Regardless, Bozeman’s attorney negotiated a five-year contract last year making Bozeman the second-highest paid in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
• Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (“Coach K”) is currently represented by the infamous-but-now-low-profile David Falk, George Washington Law graduate and NBA-legendary super agent. Falk is best know for representing Michael Jordan for the entirety of his career, including his endorsement deals with Nike.
• Jay Bilas, a four-year starter for Duke Basketball from 1983–1986, served as Coach K’s assistant coach from 1990–1992 while attending Duke Law. Bilas is now an attorney and a well-known basketball analyst. Krzyzewski’s 1982 recruiting class of Bilas, Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie and David Henderson still ranks as the highest scoring single class in college basketball history.
• See Todd Bozeman’s mention under Morgan State.
• University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, the only coach in NCAA history to take three different teams to the NCAA Final Four, has relied on attorney Steve Pence quite a bit in the last year. Pitino was in legal hot water in 2009 after an extortion attempt by a woman who claimed Pinto raped her after she was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to extort $10 million from Pitino. Pitino was cleared, but not until he admitted to having consensual sex with her in 2003 and giving her $3,000 for an abortion. To the surprise of many, Louisville did not enforce the morality clause in Pitino’s contract. He later gave a press conference where he hoped for a trial and scolded the media for running stories about him ahead of (lawyer) Ted Kennedy’s death. “The U.S. Attorney does not care about basketball,” Pitino told the press. (Video below.)
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• After being cut by Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter during walk-on tryouts for the 2006-07 season, guard Mark Wohlford was determined to make it and returned to earn a spot on the roster his junior year. Now a senior, Wohlford has been invited by Painter to return for a fourth season of play, but he’s a 4.0 student with his sites set on law school. He’s applied to 10 and been accepted already to Tennessee, IUPUI, George Mason and Maryland.
• After graduating Princeton in 1994, where he was an all-Ivy League forward, Richmond head coach Chris Mooney was hard up for work and took a job as a law clerk who sorted files and moved boxes at a law firm run by two Princeton fans.