Tyrone P. Thomas is an executive compensation and employment attorney in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C., office and serves as the co-chair of the firm's Sports Law Practice. Mr. Thomas focuses on matters concerning C-suite executives across for profit and nonprofit employers, including educational institutions, trade associations and sports organizations. He has handled high profile investigations involving allegations of workplace misconduct, fiscal impropriety, and violations of NCAA and professional league rules for over 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, incentive programs and Form 990 reporting. In the scope of his practice, he has advised on executive employment arrangements and transitions involving over 250 academic institutions.

Mr. Thomas represents clients on complex legal issues in athletics. In college athletic matters, his experience includes advising on laws and regulations for name/image/likeness deals and programs, enforcement investigations and appeals of penalties assessed to institutions, athletics staff and student-athletes. He advises colleges on Title IX, privacy issues, employment contracts and policies for athletics personnel. In professional sports matters, he has experience advising teams on league compliance issues, sponsorship arrangements 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, Mr. Thomas advises companies on reductions in force and compliant frameworks 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, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Sports Illustrated, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sports Business Journal, and University Business.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Thomas was co-chair of the sports and entertainment practice of 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
  • Counseled a professional sports team on prospective liability concerns relating to its training program for gameday officials
  • 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
  • Provided equal employment opportunity (EEO) training to players and team executives of National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) franchises
  • 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 one of the world's largest gaming companies in a pay equity audit and two high-profile internal investigations

  • Represented two universities in the SEC regarding the compensation package and employment contracts of their respective chief executives
  • Represented the Board of Trustees of seven different universities in their establishment of compensation philosophies and restructuring of executive terms for senior management
  • Successfully defended a nonprofit organization engaged in food recycling and meal distribution programs on a race discrimination charge
  • Advised a metro transportation authority on corrective action programs arising from a consent decree on discrimination charges
  • Conducted litigation avoidance audits relating to prospective discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims for a power company


  • Tulane University Law School, J.D.
  • Dartmouth College, A.B., Government
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • New York
  • Tulane University, Sports Law Advisory Board, 2022-2024
  • National Bar Association, Deputy General Counsel, 2016-2017
  • Sports Lawyers Association
Honors & Awards
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Sports Law and Employment Law, 2023
  • 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


Speaking Engagements