A Goliath in the world of collegiate sports law is working with West Virginia University on an eligibility issue involving a member of the football team.
School officials won't discuss why WVU recently signed a contract with an attorney, who is informally known as "The Cleaner," for services that cost hundreds of dollars an hour.
"All I can tell you is when working with this, we thought it was appropriate, our general counsel thought it was appropriate, that we needed expertise that we didn't possess among our in-house lawyers - and they're awfully good," WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck told the Daily Mail Wednesday.
The university recently hired Bond, Schoeneck and King, a law firm with 210 attorneys based in upstate New York. The firm also runs a collegiate sports practice group in Kansas, chaired by managing partner Michael Glazier, according to its website.
Glazier and the group specialize in issues pertaining to eligibility, infractions and compliance for student athletes, universities and others who could be affected by National Collegiate Athletic Association rules and regulations.
Some of Glazier's cases are well known in collegiate sports. In a 2008 article, ESPN.com compared Glazier to a movie character in "Pulp Fiction" who takes care of sticky situations.
"The minor difference? Instead of panicked gangsters calling with bloodied dead guys to get rid of, Glazier fields calls from panicked university administrators with NCAA investigators sniffing around them," wrote Dana O'Neil.
A source told the Daily Mail the case concerns the "initial eligibility" of a student athlete. Initial eligibility ensures prospective student athletes meet NCAA academic and amateurism guidelines, according to the NCAA.
WVU spokesman John Bolt said last week the university uses private attorneys to help with work involving the NCAA "from time to time."
"We cannot comment further as to confidential and privileged information concerning the work performed by counsel," Bolt wrote in an email to a Daily Mail reporter.
On July 26, the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General determined WVU could appoint the private law firm without going through a competitive bidding process because the matter "involves an emergency situation."
"More specifically, the university is in need of an attorney or attorneys familiar with NCAA eligibility work to represent the university on a time-sensitive eligibility matter that needs resolved prior to the start of the college football season on August 31, 2013," states the written determination, signed by Chief Counsel Dan Greear.
It says the legal services WVU needed went beyond the immediate capabilities of the Attorney General's Office. The matters require an expertise in NCAA student athlete eligibility rules, according to the determination.
The agreement between WVU and Bond, Schoeneck & King started July 9, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Daily Mail through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Attorney General's Office didn't issue its waiver until 17 days later, spokeswoman Beth Ryan confirmed.
"The Attorney General's Office was not aware of any written contract entered into prior to the waiver/written determination dated July 26," Ryan said Wednesday in an emailed statement.