Thompson Steven J

Steven J. Thompson

Steve Thompson is a trial lawyer who has tried cases in courts and arbitral forums across the United States. He represents schools, coaches, governing bodies and athletes in matters pending before the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC). In addition to sports-related matters, Steve also represents clients in complex commercial litigation, product liability and mass tort, professional liability, securities, intellectual property and governmental relations. His experience includes trials, arbitration and mediation in a variety of commercial situations.

What do you focus on?

My trial practice is focused on three main areas:


In a unique niche, I represent NCAA member institutions and coaches in matters pending before the NCAA Committee of Infractions. I also represent professional athletes, amateur athletes and sports governing bodies in other types of disputes, including myriad commercial situations and disputes over athlete selection for the U.S. Olympic Teams in advance of the Olympic Games.

Commercial and Post-Acquisition Disputes

I represent clients in commercial and contract disputes, with an emphasis on post-acquisition disputes for buyers or sellers in private equity. I am the first-chair trial lawyer in bet-the-company cases involving claims of fraud, contract breaches and other corporate disappointments.

Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense

I am active in the litigation and resolution of product liability and mass tort actions, and represent clients as trial and national coordinating counsel.

What do you see on the horizon?

I see acquirers continuing to focus on maximizing transaction value through post-acquisition litigation, and in the sports world, I expect gradual but dramatic shifts in the governance environment.

Representative Matters

  • Frequent representation of university clients and head coaches in NCAA infractions investigation and enforcement actions. These representations are vital to successful outcomes for universities in this area, and involve navigating through the investigation process with the NCAA, dealing with media and internal messaging, responding to allegations and advocating for clients before the Division I Committee on Infractions.
  • Represented an SEC member-institution in an investigation of evidence presented to the NCAA involving allegations of recruiting inducements and extra benefits in the sport of football. Following a year-long investigation, the matter was closed as evidence did not support a finding of NCAA infractions.
  • Represented an ACC member-institution in investigation and infractions matter involving men’s basketball, including over 100 interviews conducted cooperatively with NCAA enforcement staff. Our work involved internal and external messaging, negotiation with the NCAA, interface with the Board of Regents on behalf of the president and management of this wide-ranging investigation.
  • Represented a PAC-12 head basketball coach in defense of widely reported allegations of improper recruiting inducements. After a rapid response and investigation of these unfounded allegations, and intense negotiations with the university, the coach was allowed to resume his position.
  • Represented a star NCAA men’s basketball player in investigations and appeals related to performance-enhancing substances. Obtained favorable outcomes that allowed the player to avoid long-term and potentially career-ending suspensions.


Steven J. Thompson



Phone: 312-977-4396

Fax: 844-564-7931

University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D., cum laude

University of Wisconsin, B.A.

U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit


  • Leading Lawyers Network 2013
  • “40 Illinois Lawyers Under 40 to Watch” (2000) by Illinois Legal Times/Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
  • Illinois Super Lawyer, 2006, 2008-2015, Chicago Magazine/Law & Politics Publishing
  • A/V Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Sports Lawyers Association
  • American Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • State Bar of Wisconsin
  • Federal Trial Bar
  • Chairman, National Hockey League Charities/Foundation Fighting Blindness Annual Chicago Draft and Dinner
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