A longtime partner at Baker & Daniels' Indianapolis office is leaving the law firm after 28 years to become the new athletic director at his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.
After a quick stop in Beijing with his Summer Olympic clients, that is.
John "Jack" Swarbrick will start his new position officially Aug. 18. He'll be the university's 12th athletic director, which means the sports law and economic development attorney will leave the firm he's been with for almost three decades.
"Sports is a very important industry in Indianapolis, and this is an extraordinary job opportunity to get me away from a truly extraordinary law firm," the 54-year-old said.
Those in the Indianapolis sports world know his name well; Swarbrick is the former chairman of the Indiana Sports Corp., was instrumental in securing the NCAA headquarters here, and was a key player in getting the 2012 Super Bowl and men's basketball NCAA Tournament to come to Indianapolis.
Swarbrick said he's had a number of offers throughout the years, but this possibility started to seem interesting following head football coach Tyrone Willingham's 2004 firing, Charlie Weis' subsequent hiring, and the recent decision by Athletic Director Kevin White to leave the school for Duke University.
"I believe pretty passionately in this enterprise because it's a great way to complement the educational experiences," he said. "My vision revolves around the tradition at Notre Dame."
Through the years, Swarbrick's clients have included individual athletes, owners of sports teams, and organizations that sanction or conduct athletic competitions. He's served as general counsel for many national governing bodies of Olympic sports, including USA Gymnastics and USRowing.
He expects his legal background will be of great assistance in the new position because many items will probably have legal implications and he'll be able to consult with the governing board in understanding those issues.
"The principal difference is being responsible for a very large staff and being (in) a university environment," he said.
Much of his current job involves more consulting work than what he describes as traditional legal work, handling economic development projects, and licensing and deal negotiations, Swarbrick said he will focus most of his time wrapping that up before Aug. 1.