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Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Update on Sonny Vaccaro's East Coast Speaking Tour

A couple of notes on Sonny Vaccaro:

At 6:30 p.m tonight, Sonny will deliver a lecture at the Robert H. Smith School of Business on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus. The event is open to the public. Here are some additional details:
Sonny Vaccaro to Speak at University of Maryland Business School

Sports marketing legend Sonny Vaccaro will speak at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. Vaccaro — who is to be portrayed by Emmy-winner James Gandolfini of “Sopranos” fame in the upcoming HBO original movie, “ABCD Camp,” — will speak to students about his years negotiating lucrative shoe deals and multimillion-dollar promotional partnerships for top athletes, including signing Michael Jordon to his first major endorsement package. Vaccaro also created top basketball camps and tournaments for amateur players. His Roundball Classic, founded 43 years ago, is the original high-school all-star game for the top 22 high school players in the country with many being drafted to the NBA or recruited by leading colleges. The event is part of the Smith School’s Undergraduate Fellows Program, which offers students participation in one of several small-scale specialized academic concentrations that provide hands-on experiences and close interaction with faculty, alumni, peers and industry professionals. Smith will launch a Sport Management Fellows program next spring.

WHO: Sports marketing legend Sonny Vaccaro addresses Robert H. Smith School of Business students. More information about Vaccaro and his basketball camps and tournaments is available at this link and on his Web site, Next Factors.

WHAT: Vaccaro will share his marketing insights from more than four decades in the sports business. He’ll talk about controversial celebrity endorsements, how endorsements have impacted the industry, his views and what the critics say, and he’ll forecast what’s next in sports marketing.

WHEN: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
6:30-7:30 p.m. – Vaccaro’s presentation to students
7:30-8:30 p.m. – Reception

Robert H. Smith School of Business

Frank Auditorium, Room 1524
Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland, College Park 20742

*Vaccaro will be available for media interviews following his presentation to students. To attend the event and request an interview, please contact:
Carrie Handwerker, 301-405-5833,
I attended Sonny's talk at Yale Law School last week. Great work by Ashlee Lynn and Michael Bloom, president and vice-president, respectively, of the Yale Sports and Entertainment Law Association, in putting the event together. Whether you agree or disagree with him, Sonny knows how to deliver a mesmerizing talk. Just great stuff and I hope those of you near the University Maryland get over to see him tomorrow night.

Nick Infante, who runs the excellent College Athletics Clips, also attended the event at Yale Law and offers a thoughtful perspective on Sonny's talk. Here are a couple of excerpts from Nick's great article:

Some of the events that Sonny was describing occurred before many in the predominantly under-25 audience were born – or they were just kids – but he skillfully made that history relevant to today’s challenges. He kept coming back to the validation of actions based on what’s right, what’s good for the kids, what the norm is in any situation (i.e.-What’re the other guys doing?), etc.

This was not a guy describing an absolute black and white delineation of right and wrong. This was a seasoned business pro describing real-world relativism. After all, what might be considered a kickback nowadays was probably considered a finder’s fee a few years ago. Similarly, what was once considered a gift might now be considered a bribe.

* * *

After about an hour and a quarter of nostalgic narrative, Sonny up-shifted into the advocacy part of his monologue. He lit into the NBA (over the 19–plus–1 rule) and the NCAA (for seemingly everything else under the sun).

This is where Sonny pulled out all the stops. As if we hadn’t already been exposed to an engaging, passionate speaker, now there was an even more supercharged dynamo in front of us.

Sonny was especially agitated over the NBA’s 19–plus-1 rule, remarking that “white America was not ready for these black kids.” He then mocked the end result of the rule, that there were eight players who jumped to the NBA after an “and-1.” Said Sonny, “They weren’t student-athletes. They were rent-a-players.”


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