Sports marketing guru returns to Valley

May 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Few people realize the man who signed Michael Jordan to a ground-breaking Nike deal in 1984 was a Reedley College grad.

Sonny Vaccaro enjoyed a hero's welcome. His every move was recorded by an ESPN "30 for 30" documentary crew. Sonny hasn't been on this campus since he left in 1958. Vaccaro recalled, "The oranges on the tree. I never forgot that experience. I've never ever forgot that. I've always had a special affinity for Reedley because they were very important to my life."

Vaccaro had no idea his vision would help Michael Jordan build a billion dollar brand. He just wanted to reach the masses in 1984. "What you never had was an athlete who was a spokesperson and Michael was able to transcend black and white. No one's ever done that."

Sonny's moved shoes for Nike, Adidas and Reebok and is an old friend of Tark. "He was the first man to sign a financial contract with a shoe company, Jerry Tarkanian when he was with the rebels."

Reedley College will honor Vaccaro as a distinguished alum during Friday's commencement. School president Michael White said, "He's definitely been successful. That's what we want to show our graduates. You can move on from here and be very successful."

Sonny added, "Reedley helped start my life and was very good to me."

Vaccaro has been busy spreading a message at schools like Harvard, Yale and now Reedley College. He told people, "I think amateur athletics are a fraud."

Sonny Vaccaro is an unpaid advisor for a lawsuit against the NCAA. "I'm not talking about paying these kids while they're in college but they don't own my image the minute I'm not there anymore. They can't sell my picture. They can't sell my video. They can't make EA sports games with my image on it."

On June 20th both sides will learn whether the suit will be certified.


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