NCAA president Mark Emmert. (Kevin Cox/Getty)
A tax filing released this week by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the embattled governing body for college sports, shows that the organization paid $8.7 million in legal fees and expenses during its most recent fiscal year.
The latest Form 990 filed by the Indianapolis-based nonprofit with the IRS covers the 12-month period between Sept. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2013. Among the NCAA’s five-largest independent contractors is Latham & Watkins, which is listed as being paid more than $3.2 million for “legal services.”
The Am Law Daily reported in 2011 on the NCAA’s hire of former Latham litigation partner and New Orleans native Donald Remy to become its new general counsel. Remy is listed in tax filings as receiving $619,663 in total compensation, while former vice president of enforcement Julie Roe Lach took home another $353,536.
Roe Lach, who in May was named deputy commissioner of the Horizon League, currently runs her own Indianapolis-based consulting firm. The NCAA dismissed her in early 2013 as a result of complications stemming from an investigation into the University of Miami’s athletic program. (Roe Lach was replaced by Jonathan Duncan, a former attorney at Husch Blackwell and Spencer Fane Britt & Browne.)
As for Latham, the firm’s work on behalf of the NCAA was noted last month by sibling publication The National Law Journal in its D.C. Litigation Department of the Year special report. The firm has been advising the organization in its defense of sanctions levied against Penn State University stemming from the sexual assault conviction of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. (Latham also does work for pro football players, having received $1.1 million for its work on behalf of the National Football League Players Association during its most recent fiscal year.)
Remy lavished praise on his former Latham colleagues to the NLJ, calling the firm’s lawyers “committed to litigating with a focus on winning the specific case and obtaining the outcome that best serves the broader mission and goals of our association.”
That mission is one that has come under fire in recent years over the NCAA’s perceived exploitation of college athletes to the benefit of its member institutions, which are the hundreds of schools and other universities that play Division I college sports.
Just last month, trial began in a high-profile antitrust class action brought by several former athletes seeking royalties from the use of their likeness. And more lawyers from Am Law 200 firms are poised to profit from the NCAA’s ongoing amateurism fight. U.S. Senate records show that in mid-June, the NCAA retained Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to lobby on issues related to the “welfare of student-athletes.”
The Am Law Daily reported earlier this year on the big-firm lawyers who help make the NCAA’s annual March Madness men’s basketball tournament and college football’s enormously popular—and profitable—bowl season happen each year. Last week, Greenberg Traurig tax partner Daniel Novakov in Dallas was named the 38th chairman of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, the nonprofit organization behind the annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic football game.