Stephanie Vardavas has enjoyed a varied career spanning more than 35 years in the sports business, and is one of a very small number of attorneys who have represented a major sports league, athletes and an athlete representation agency, major sports events, and a major sponsor.

In 1979, she was one of the first two trainees hired into the Major League Baseball Executive Development Program in New York City. After a year in that program she joined the American League as Manager of Waivers and Player Records. In that role she administered and enforced the Major League Rules as they related to contract signings and roster transactions such as waiver requests, assignments, and disabled list placements. While working full-time for the American League, she enrolled in Fordham Law School's evening division and graduated in 1985.

After passing the New York bar exam she moved to the Commissioner's Office legal staff, where she remained until 1989, advising the Major League Clubs on player transactions, stadium leases, and other matters, and working on leaguewide sponsorship, television, and licensing agreements. In 1989 she joined the sports agency ProServ, first in its New York office and then in its headquarters in suburban Washington, DC.

At ProServ she led the endorsement, sponsorship, and television rights contracting process for ProServ's athlete clients and event properties, rising to the level of Vice President for Legal and Business Affairs.

ProServ later became a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications. In 1997 Nike recruited Stephanie to its headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to take up a position in the legal department dealing with endorsements and sponsorships. During her years in Beaverton, Stephanie negotiated and drafted agreements with many of Nike's highest profile athletes and properties in tennis, golf, baseball, cycling, basketball, track and field, and other sports. While continuing her work in sports marketing, for more than ten years she devoted more than half of her practice to issues relating to product safety, compliance, and sustainability issues affecting Nike's footwear, apparel, and equipment product divisions, as well as Nike's licensees and subsidiary brands including Cole Haan, Converse, Umbro, and Hurley. From 2009-2011 her practice was devoted to Nike's and its subsidiaries' brand communication, product advertising, and trademarks.

She retired from Nike in 2011 and opened her own law practice. Today she advises her clients with regard to issues in sports marketing, licensing, product safety and regulatory compliance, competition law, and intellectual property.

Since 2013 she has led legal workshops and taught in the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business. Her course is called "Legal and Ethical Issues in Sports and Outdoor Product Management." She is a frequent guest speaker and panelist on sports law and business issues and regularly acts as an instructor for continuing legal education programs in related subject areas. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sports Lawyers Association since 1995, and after serving seven three-year terms became an Emeritus board member in 2016.

Stephanie is also an active volunteer in the Portland community and served two terms as President of the Friends of the Multnomah County Library. She was an elected Obama delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention and served as a founding board member of EMERGE Oregon, an organization that provides training for Democratic women who are interested in running for public office. She was appointed by then-Governor John Kitzhaber to the Oregon Commission for Women in 2011, reappointed by Governor Kate Brown in 2014, and served as Chairwoman from 2012 to 2015.

Her interests include reading, writing, traveling, photography, the arts, architecture, and other urban pursuits. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She owns more than 400 pairs of shoes, none of which are brown.



Expert DirectLink

Areas of Expertise
Articles, Publications, Appearances