Howard University

Archive - Clarence Clyde Ferguson Jr. Annual Lecture - October 17, 2007

Clarence Clyde Ferguson Jr. Annual Lecture

Guest Lecturer: G. William Hunter ‘69
Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association

Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 4:30 p.m.
Moot Court Room
Howard University School of Law
Reception to follow. RSVP

View the Slideshow

Bill Hunter is the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, a position he has held since 1996. As the director of the Player’s Association Mr. Hunter’s principal duty is to “enhance the financial, educational, and emotional well-being of the 430 basketball players employed by the NBA.” Under his leadership NBA players have used their collective bargaining power to challenge the way the NBA is run and the money it generates is distributed. Mr. Hunter served as chief negotiator during the high profile labor negotiations that culminated in the 1999 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the National Basketball Association and its players.

As a result of the agreement, NBA players are assured of maintaining their status as the best compensated athletes in team sports worldwide. Mr. Hunter has been widely credited for helping forge the solidarity that carried NBA players through the management-imposed lockout, which delayed the start of the 1998-1999 NBA season by more than three months.

The 1998-99 NBA imposed lockout is one of the most significant challenges that the union has confronted during Mr. Hunter’s tenure, including the highly charged and publicized Latrell Sprewell matter, the closely watched arbitration over the rights of players to be paid under guaranteed contracts during a management imposed work stoppage, and numerous other disputes involving players’ rights both on and off the court.

In order to maintain the organization’s status as the preeminent representative of professional basketball players, in 1998 Mr. Hunter formed the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, the first major sports union in this country to represent female athletes, which he has headed since its inception. In May 2003, the WNBPA signed a new collective five year collective bargaining agreement with the WNBA which increased players’ salaries and established “free-agency” for the first time ever in women’s professional sports

Mr. Hunter arrived at the NBPA well prepared for the high visibility role as head of a major sports union. Mr. Hunter’s diverse background includes a stint as a professional football player with the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, and as the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California at San Francisco. Mr. Hunter has placed an emphasis on increasing player services delivered by the union to its membership, educating players about the business of professional basketball, and preparing players for life after their careers in the NBA. Under his direction, the NBA Players Association annually conducts summer basketball clinics in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, China. Similar clinics are conducted by the association in the US for underprivileged youth.

Mr. Hunter graduated from Syracuse University, where he was captain of the football team. He received his J.D. Degree from Howard University Law School in 1969 and a LLM (Master of Law) from Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California-Berkeley in 1970. Mr. Hunter served several years as a prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, and as the Chief-Assistant in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, where he supervised the prosecution of all felony and misdemeanor cases.

In 1977, he was appointed to the position of United States Attorney by President Jimmy Carter, on the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Allan Cranston. During his tenure as US Attorney he supervised the investigation and prosecution of members of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple, the Hell’s Angels, and the Church of Hakeem. He was selected by the US Attorney General to advise President Carter on the pardon of Patricia Hearst. From 1984 until his appointment with the Players Association, he managed his own law firm specializing in municipal finance, entertainment law, white-collar criminal defense, and other high-profile civil litigation. His clients included Mayor Willie Brown, MC Hammer, Dion Sanders, Ricky Henderson, Pebbles, Dick Griffey, Solar Records, De Passe Entertainment, the Luniz, RJ Reynolds-Nabisco, Phillip Morris, and others.

In 1955, Mr. Hunter pitched for Cherry Hill New Jersey in the final game of the Little League World Championship Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1955, Cherry Hill was the first integrated team ever to compete in the Little League World Series Championship. The final game against Carlisle Pennsylvania was the first game in Little League history to go extra innings. Carlisle defeated Cherry Hill, 3-2. In July 2003, he was inducted into the Little League Hall of Fame along with George Brett (Kansas City Royals) and Kevin Kostner (actor).

He is a member of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees. He is a consultant to the China Sports Industry, Inc., which operates the exclusive China Sports Network and manages the marketing and promotion of professional sports in the People’s Republic of China. He has been active in local and national politics, serving several years as the Past-President of the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, who he represented over a period of 11 years on trade missions throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. In 1990, he was a candidate for the U.S. CongressMr. Hunter maintains residences in both New York City and Oakland with his wife Janice. They have three children.