Mr. Williams is an experienced commercial litigator with almost thirty years of experience as a former Assistant United States Attorney and then a partner in large New York City law firms. Mr. Williams is a 1974 graduate of Columbia University. From 1979 to 1983, Mr. Williams was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He is a member of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Member, Committee on Sports Law, 1988-1992; Adjunct Member, Committee on Professional Discipline, 1992 to present), New York State Bar Association (Chairman, Committee on Amateur and Olympic Sports, 1988), American Bar Association (Member, Section on Litigation) and Federal Bar Council. He also is a member of the Pro Bono Panel, Southern District of New York (1983 to present). Mr. Williams has acted as a Director for the Fund for Modern Courts (1986-1988), as a Special Mediator, Department Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department (1993 to the present), and an Instructor in the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (2000). Mr. Williams was a member of the United States Olympic Team (1968) and an officer in the United States Army (1964-1966).
Mr. Williams specializes in sports law, arbitrations, civil trials and appeals. He has been active in sports law, principally sports on the Olympic program, for his entire legal career. Following his graduation from Columbia Law School, he participated in the formation of the USOC's first-ever Athletes' Advisory Council ("AAC") in 1974, and was a member of the AAC through 1981, serving as its Chair from 1977 through 1981.
As Chair of the AAC, Mr. Williams testified before the President's Commission on Olympic Sports, which had been created by President Ford to study the role of the USOC and other amateur sports organizations in this country. Among the recommendations of the Commission was that Congress should pass legislation to establish legal protections for athletes seeking to participate in the Olympics, the Pan American Games, and world championship competitions.
At the resulting Senate hearings, Mr. Williams advocated the participation of athletes in the governance of the USOC, and for establishing a dispute-resolution mechanism to protect the rights of athletes trying out for the Olympics, Pan Am Games, and the world championships of any Olympic or Pan Am Sport. Mr. Williams also worked with the Senate staff, and Counsel for the USOC, NCAA, and AAU to draft the athletes' rights section of the subsequently enacted Amateur Sports Act of 1978, and the analogous provisions in the USOC Constitution and By-Laws.
During this same period Mr. Williams was a member of the USOC's Legislation Committee, and subsequently he was appointed Chairman of that Committee, and served for an additional eight years in that capacity under USOC Presidents Jack Kelly, Robert Helmick, and William Hybl. As Chair of the USOC Legislation Committee, Mr. Williams advocated the adoption of many key provisions in the USOC Constitution and By-Laws, including provisions concerning athlete representation on the Boards of the USOC and member National Governing Bodies, athletes' and coaches' selection, the avoidance of conflicts of interest, and complaint and hearing procedures.
A long-time advocate of due process rights for athletes, Mr. Williams drafted a due process "checklist" that the USOC, in 1984, recommended that the National Governing Bodies adopt. This due process "checklist" was subsequently approved by the AAC, and has served as a model for hearing procedures adopted by many National Governing Bodies. This checklist specifies the minimum protections to which athletes are entitled in the hearings held by National Governing Bodies, as mandated by the Sports Act.
Mr. Williams has represented numerous athletes over the years, many on a pro bono basis, in connection with eligibility matters, including the opportunity to participate in the Olympic and Pan American Games and World Championship competitions. A notable recent case involved a nationally-ranked track and field athlete who, as a result of an arbitration conducted pursuant to procedures established by the Sports Act, was ordered reinstated to good standing and declared eligible to compete in the U.S. National Track and Field Championships. The arbitrator (now a Judge on the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals) found that USA Track and Field's hearing procedures failed to provide the athlete with the due process protections mandated by the Sports Act. As a direct result of this decision, USATF revised its hearing procedures.
More recently, Mr. Williams again was consulted by the USOC and Senate staff in connection with the 1998 amendments to the Sports Act, and he played a significant role in the adoption of legislation requiring the USOC to create the position of an independent "athlete Ombudsman" on the staff of the USOC. Beginning in 1992, Mr. Williams urged that such a position be created on the staff of the USOC; and he renewed this proposal in connection with the Atlanta Olympics. Further advocacy by Mr. Williams and others finally led to the creation of the athlete Ombudsman position within the USOC by the 1998 Amendment to the Sports Act, now embodied in The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.
Mr. Williams' most recent cases have involved representing athletes in arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association and the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in connection with eligibility issues; the representation of an athlete concerning the drug testing of athletes by the recently-created U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; and the representation of an NGB in a hearing before the USOC in connection with the eligibility requirements of a sports organization to serve as a NGB. (Click for recent NY Law Journal article.)
Mr. Williams competed in the 1968 Winter Olympics in the sport of biathlon. He was a National Champion in cross-country skiing and a two-time All-American in the sport. He is married to Gail D. Hollister, the Associate Dean and Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham Law School.