Overview

Tyrone P. Thomas is an executive compensation and employment attorney in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C., office. Mr. Thomas focuses on matters concerning C-suite executives of educational institutions, trade associations and sports organizations.  He has experience handling high-profile investigations involving allegations of workplace misconduct, fiscal impropriety and violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional league rules for more than 20 years.

Mr. Thomas advises boards, presidents and other senior executives on employment, consulting and separation agreements. In providing compliance assessments on governance issues, he advises boards and compensation committees on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations governing intermediate sanctions and Form 990 reporting. In the scope of his practice, he has advised on executive employment agreements involving over 250 academic institutions. 

Mr. Thomas represents clients on complex legal issues in athletics. In intercollegiate athletic matters, his experience includes name/image/likeness deals and protocols, enforcement investigations, the infractions process and appeals. He advises colleges on Title IX, employment contracts and policies for athletics personnel. In professional sports matters, he has experience advising teams on league compliance issues and other legal matters.

Mr. Thomas also has experience counseling clients on the development and implementation of affirmative action plans and related matters with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). In general employment matters, he advises companies on reductions in force and the legal framework to implement diversity goals and action plans.

In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Thomas is a frequent speaker for various associations in higher education on presidential compensation and executive searches, including the American Council on Education (ACE), National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). He is nationally recognized for his experience in sports matters and has served as a legal analyst for The New York Times, ESPN, Forbes, Bloomberg, Sports Illustrated, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sports Business Journal and University Business.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Thomas was an attorney at a large U.S. law firm in its Washington, D.C., and New York offices.  

Representative Experience

  • Advised a professional sports league on matters related to the hosting of its all-star game
  • Counseled several entities on name/image/likeness compliance matters for college athletics programs
  • Represented a major league professional sports team in arbitration over appropriate trade disclosures; obtained a seven-figure recovery
  • Advised a university on certain terms for the contract of its then-head football coach, who was at the time subject to high recruitment elsewhere because of the team's top 5 national ranking
  • Provided employment advice and counseling to a Power 5 conference on key employment and executive compensation issues for its senior staff
  • Advised and counseled on National Basketball Association (NBA) league bylaws and polices, as well as involvement in intra-team disputes and matters involving trades and health disclosures
  • Provided advice to a New York metro area sports team on its sponsorship and facility use agreements
  • Advised several university athletic departments on employment matters, compliance with Title IX, regulations applicable to athletics aid and participation, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) bylaws and policies

  • Represented two universities in the SEC regarding the compensation package and employment contracts of their respective presidents
  • Successfully defended a nonprofit organization engaged in food recycling and meal distribution programs on a race discrimination charge
  • Conducted litigation avoidance audits relating to prospective discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims for a power company, international trucking company and a provider of cleaning and facility services
  • Counseled the seventh-largest video game company on a pay equity audit and creation of training programs with universities
  • Represented the inventor of a COVID-19 treatment pill in compensation negotiations

Credentials

Education
  • Tulane University Law School, J.D.
  • Dartmouth College, A.B., Government
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
Memberships
  • National Bar Association, Deputy General Counsel, 2016-2017
  • Sports Lawyers Association
Honors & Awards
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Outstanding Contribution, Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America, 2022
  • Power Players: Outside Counsel, Sports Business Journal, 2021
  • Power List, Lawyers of Color, 2020
  • Most Influential Black Lawyers, Savoy Magazine, 2018
  • Presidential Award for Outstanding Service, National Bar Association, 2017

Publications

Speaking Engagements

News