The Talent

January 7, 2011 6:53 PM

Latham Partner Donald Remy Headed to NCAA as New Legal Chief

Posted by Brian Baxter

DonRemyWith college football's annual championship just days away, the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation has named Latham & Watkins litigation partner Donald Remy as its new general counsel.

Remy (pictured right) will take over as the NCAA's new top lawyer on March 14 after winding down his practice at Latham in Washington, D.C. Needless to say, he's excited about starting his new high-profile job.

"They had a nationwide search, and I threw my hat in the ring," Remy says. "I went through the process, as I suspect everyone else did, and ultimately [NCAA] president [Mark] Emmert thought I was the right guy for the job. And I couldn't be happier."

An NCAA selection committee and the organization's senior management vetted GC candidates compiled by a national headhunting firm. Remy says he was only told that "many" attorneys wanted the position, which he began interviewing for a few months ago. Scott Bearby, an associate general counsel at the NCAA and its managing director for legal affairs, has been serving as interim in-house legal chief after the organization's first general counsel Elsa Cole stepped down in August 2010 after 13 years in the post.

Emmert became NCAA president in April 2010. His predecessor, well-regarded reformer Myles Brand,  passed away from pancreatic cancer in September 2009 after seven years on the job. Since taking the organization's reins, Emmert has had his hands full with a variety of issues, according to this recent New York Times story. Now Remy, no stranger to prominent in-house positions, will help Emmert and the NCAA navigate its various legal entanglements.

From 1997 to 2000, Remy served as deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil division. He spent the next six years as the deputy general counsel, chief compliance officer, and vice president of litigation at Fannie Mae.

Remy's service for the mortgage giant may have helped sink his shot at another public service position: general counsel for the U.S. Army. President Barack Obama nominated him to that post in March 2009. Remy withdrew his nomination a few months later in the face of opposition from Republican senators, who criticized Remy for a lack of candor after he listed Fannie Mae simply as a "major U.S. company" on a required disclosure form.

But Remy's not wallowing in the past. At the NCAA, he says, he will be involved in a "myriad of legal issues" facing college sports, including the presence of sports agents on college campuses. (The Am Law Daily has previously reported on some firms starting sports practices to advise collegiate clients and others handling antitrust issues that could change the face of college sports.)

"There's all forms of litigation, such as antitrust cases, breach of contract cases, rights of publicity, civil conspiracy, and other types of matters in the litigation context," Remy says. "One of the responsibilities that I'll have is handling the litigation portfolio of the organization working with our outside counsel, as well as other policy issues I'll have to weigh in on once I learn the facts."

Since he has yet to start at the NCAA, Remy isn't sure about the number of outside firms that the organization employs. And he won't say whether Latham will be one of them when he joins the NCAA on the Monday after Selection Sunday for the annual March Madness men's basketball tournament.

As part of his switch in-house, Remy, a New Orleans native, will move from Washington to the NCAA's hometown of Indianapolis.

"This is going to be a fascinating position with challenging legal issues for an organization that's in the press and involved in a lot of the news of the day relating to college sports," Remy says. "I'm looking forward to working with the NCAA on issues related to the student-athlete and how to put them in the best position possible."

Asked to identify his favorite sport, Remy hedges a bit before conceding that the one he most enjoys watching is basketball, though at the collegiate level, he says, football ranks number one (not surprising for the alum of LSU, which last clinched the national championship in 2008.)

Leave It To Marc Kasowitz To Beat Duke Basketball

Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman star litigator and founding partner Marc Kasowitz has helped NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman beat two former Duke basketball players in court, not on the court.

Merriman, who recently signed a two-year contract worth $2.5 million with the Buffalo Bills after several injury-plagued seasons, has been awarded $3.8 million from a federal court in Greenbelt, Md., Bloomberg reports.

U.S. district court judge Roger Titus entered the judgment in favor of Merriman in a dispute over a real estate ownership interest with former Duke players Christian Laettner and Brian Davis. Kasowitz told Bloomberg that during the past two years, the former Blue Devils had "denied they owed the money, and then made false promises they would repay Shawne."

Daniel Shea of Rockville, Md.-based Brault Graham represented Laettner--a Duke legend for this shot--and Davis in the case. As for the current Duke basketball squad, they remain undefeated so far this year.

Around the Horn

-- By now, the letter former Cleveland Browns general counsel James Bailey sent Roetzel & Andress lawyer and franchise season ticket holder Dale Cox has made its way all over the Internet. Cleveland Scene got a hold of the 36-year-old letter last month and sports Web site called it "The Greatest Letter Ever Printed on NFL Team Letterhead." We'll let you judge for yourself, but our own Shannon Green, of sibling publication Corporate Counsel, actually tracked down Bailey this week to talk about the spur-of-the-moment missive.

-- Barry Bonds defense team is getting ready to try a different legal strategy, according to sibling publication The Recorder. Bonds's lawyers--led by new Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Allen Ruby--are trying to get a dozen witnesses and government exhibits banned from the former ballplayer's perjury trial this spring.

-- Major League Baseball and Anheuser-Busch have announced a multiyear renewal of their sponsorship agreement, ending litigation over the sponsorship and a possible end to a 30-year relationship, Reuters reports. The Am Law Litigation Daily covered the increasingly ugly case late last month.

-- A golfer didn't have a duty to yell "fore" or use some other means to warn players nearby when he hit an errant shot in 2002 that took out the eye of a playing partner, reports Bloomberg and sibling publication the New York Law Journal. New York's highest court ruled in December that injured golfer Azad Anand assumed certain risks when stepping on to the Dix Hills Country Club green with fellow doctor and friend Anoop Kapoor, who hit the shot that cost Anand his sight in one eye.

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