Thursday, May 22, 2008
Local Attorney, Legal Assistant Join Athletic Commission
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation yesterday announced the appointment of two members of the Los Angeles legal community to its Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
The foundation—a private, non-profit dedicated to promoting journalism and supporting the vitality of 26 communities where the two Knight Brothers who founded Knight Ridder owned newspapers—announced that Sonja Steptoe, an attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and Sarah Lowe, a legal assistant at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, have joined the commission.
Established in 1989 due to concern about college sports scandals and low graduation rates threatening the integrity of higher education, the commission advocates for policies to strengthen academic and fiscal integrity, and monitors the implementation of NCAA academic policies, Amy Perko, executive director of the commission, said.
Members include former and active college presidents, board of trustee members of universities, members of the sports media, and former college athletes.
Steptoe is the current Client Development Manager for O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and a former sports journalist. She told the MetNews that her appointment was “such an honor.”
In what she called her “previous life,” Steptoe was a senior editor at Sports Illustrated and National Correspondent for CNNSI sports network. She said she often read the commission’s reports and researched the group’s opinions on the pressing issues of the day.
Steptoe credited the commission as being the “conscience of intercollegiate athletics.”
The commission is “like the guiding light in terms of what’s right and what the standards should be,” she said. “It holds everyone’s feet to the fire to try and achieve those ideals.”
A self-described “pitiful tennis player” and “treadmill warrior,” Steptoe said she just learned how to swim two years ago and likes to think of herself as a “very high handicap golfer.”
However, she said she has seen a lot of the issues the commission addresses “up close,” having interviewed “exemplary” students and those who had “fallen prey to the temptations” surrounding college athletes.
As a member of the commission, she said she hopes to bring the perspective of a “skeptical journalist” and utilize her legal training to flesh out both sides of debates and bring an “analytical focus” to discussions.
The Louisiana native earned degrees in economics and journalism at the University of Missouri, and a law degree from Duke University.
In 1999, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Journalism for her investigation of East Germany’s systematic doping of Olympic athletes.
Lowe is a corporate legal assistant at the law firm of Skadden Arps. The former University of Florida basketball player is a member of the university’s hall of fame, and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2006 with degrees in political science and Spanish.
A Fulbright Scholar and two-time Rhodes scholar finalist who was also the recipient of the Arthur Ashe, Jr. 2006 Female Sport Scholar of the Year award, Lowe was not available for comment.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company