Rebooted XFL Taps NBC Sports Lawyer as Legal, Business Chief (1)

The XFL, whose third attempt at a non-NFL football league debuts in February, hired veteran sports lawyer Wendy Bass as chief business and legal officer.

Bass spent the past two years as senior vice president of programming and rights management for NBC Sports Group. She oversaw acquisitions and programming and managed digital media strategy and partnerships.

At the XFL, Bass will lead the legal, people operations, and technology departments. The league announced her hire in a Nov. 29 statement. Bass said via email the new league is working with Latham & Watkins for media deals, Quarles & Brady on trademark issues, and Rochester, NY-based Woods Oviatt Gilman on other matters.

The relaunched XFL completed a preliminary player draft last month for its eight teams located in Washington, St. Louis, Seattle, San Antonio, Orlando, Las Vegas, Houston, and Arlington, Texas, near Dallas. The league is based in Arlington.

Bass said she was drawn to the XFL by Kevin LaForce, a former NFL executive who joined RedBird last year as a managing director and head of the private equity firm’s sports and media business. LaForce, who worked with Bass when he was at the NFL and she at broadcast partner NBC, reached out about the opportunity, Bass said.

The XFL said Bass reports to its President Russ Brandon, the brother of Gregg Brandon, who until recently was general counsel for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Russ Brandon was also once president and CEO of the Bills, whose former general manager Doug Whaley is the XFL’s top player personnel executive.

McMahon’s original vision of the XFL was created in partnership with NBC Sports, the Stamford, Conn.-based sports programming division of NBCUniversal Media LLC, a media and entertainment conglomerate owned by cable giant Comcast Corp.

John Wilson, a K&L Gates sports law and technology transactions partner who stepped in as interim general counsel for the XFL when Friedman went on maternity leave ahead of the league’s pandemic-driven insolvency, said he’s no longer advising the alternative football outfit. He wished the league the best in its next iteration.

Alec Scheiner, a former general counsel of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, now serves as a sports and media investment partner at RedBird. Last year RedBird hired Michael Chiaravalloti, a former managing director for JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s private bank, to be its chief compliance officer and in-house counsel.

RedBird was advised on its XFL purchase by Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Sidley Austin represented Johnson’s camp on the deal, which closed in late 2020.