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Former NBA executive to speak at Penn State on ‘The Role of Ethics in Sports’

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Joel Litvin, former President, League Operations, for the NBA, will draw on his experience as a lawyer and his 27-year career in the league office for a discussion on sports ethics on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Penn State Law.

Litvin’s talk, “The Role of Ethics in Sports,” is free and open to the public. It is slated for 7 to 8:15 p.m. in the Sutliff Auditorium, room 118 Lewis Katz Building, on Penn State’s University Park campus.  

Litvin, who stepped down from the NBA last fall, is serving this semester as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Penn State Law, where he will be guest lecturing on multiple occasions in Professor Stephen F. RossSports Law class, as well as meeting undergraduates and law students informally.

Throughout his tenure with the NBA, Litvin was involved in all aspects of league operations, including legal affairs, collective bargaining, salary cap administration, basketball and referee operations, league security, player development and health initiatives, and social responsibility programs. He also served as the chief liaison for the league office with various committees of the NBA’s Board of Governors on a range of franchise matters, including revenue sharing; team sales, relocations, and expansion; and the development of the league's ownership and debt policies.

Working with owners on the NBA's Planning Committee, Litvin led the development of each of the league's revenue sharing plans, including the most recent, which was adopted concurrently with the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Litvin also oversaw the creation of the first escrow/tax system in professional sports and, as head of basketball and referee operations from 2006 to 2013, he led a significant expansion of the use of instant replay; developed a comprehensive, data-driven program for evaluating and training referees; and promoted transparency relating to game rules and their enforcement through the Video Rule Book at

Litvin joined the NBA in 1988 as a Staff Attorney. He rose through the ranks to oversee the league's legal department eventually becoming Senior Vice President and General Counsel in 1999 and Executive Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs, in 2000. He was promoted to the newly created position of President, League Operations, in 2006.

His talk at Penn State Law is part of the Penn State Roundtable on Sports and Society’s 2016-2017 theme, Ethics in Sports. The roundtable is a cross-campus collaboration bringing together faculty and administrators from a variety of disciplines at Penn State whose professional work involves sports. The group includes about 30 faculty members and also serves as a means of collaboration between the University’s sports-related research centers: the Center for Sports Business & Research at the Smeal College of Business, the Curley Center for Sports Journalism at the College of Communications, and Penn State Law’s Institute for Sports Law, Policy and Research, which is directed by Ross.

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