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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Reactions to Sonny Vaccaro's Talk at Harvard Law School

Just passing along some great news coverage and on-site observations from Sonny Vaccaro's speech at Harvard Law School last night.

First off, Rob Roberts, a first-year law student at Harvard Law School and perhaps our first Sports Law Blog reporter, checks in with a great piece of reporting:
Sonny Vaccaro gave an excellent talk last night. Some highlights from the evening:

- Watching him interact with people before his talk, I could absolutely see why so many kids in the basketball world looked up to and trusted him. Sonny seemed genuinely interested in meeting everyone in the room. I actually tried to sneak past him to not interrupt his conversation at one point, only to be stopped with a friendly, "Hello young man, Sonny Vaccaro. Whats your name?"

- He is an amazing storyteller. Hearing him weave his way from growing up in post-WWII Pittsburgh, to the beginning of his all-star games and camps, representing George Gervin, and finally his experiences in the shoe business was engaging from start to finish. He managed to go for a full 90 minutes without referring to the notes his lovely wife Pam had prepared for him.

- My favorite part of his talk was definitely his candor and honesty. The man is certainly not afraid to speak his mind, especially on subjects he is passionate about. Good or bad, Sonny told the crowd exactly how he felt on every subject he addressed -- especially the NCAA. His big 'hot button' issues: the fairness of the NBA and NFL draft processes, the profits schools make from (and do not share with) their football and basketball players, and the apparent hypocrisy of the standards "student athletes" are held to compared to the institutions they attend.

Anyone who can get to one of his upcoming talks should definitely take the opportunity to do so. It's a worthwhile experience for anyone who has cared about basketball at any level over the past 30 years.
Thanks to Rob for that excellent report. Some other great coverage comes from Pete Thamel of the New York Times and Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post, who interviews Harvard Law 2L Jihad Beauchman and 3L Mike Menitove (who is also president of the Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law):
Jihad Beauchman, a second-year law student, said: "Sonny and I don't necessary agree on the issues, but I like that he is so passionate about it. It's amazing that he has accomplished so much, but he still sees that his greatest goal is forthcoming."

Michael Menitove, a third-year law student, is the president of Harvard's Committee on Sports and Entertainment Law, which invited Vaccaro to speak. Menitove said: "We wanted someone who was controversial. We wanted someone who was opinionated. Agree or disagree, the NCAA is an issue that has certainly been at the forefront of conversation."
Also, Sonny spoke at Duke Law School earlier this year, an event organized by Duke 3L Michael Sopko. Sonny's speech can be viewed at this link.

Last but not least, be sure to check out Money Player's Marc Isenberg's excellent post entitled Sonny Vaccaro goes Ivy League. Marc, as many of you know, is the author of The Student-Athlete Survival Guide and The Truth about Gambling, and will soon be publishing Money Players: A Guide to Success in Sports, Business & Life for Current and Future Pro Athletes.

I look forward to attending Sonny's speech tomorrow at Yale Law School.


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