Former Olympic Gymnast Hopes to Expand Sports Practice at Munck Wilson Mandala
To say Tasha Schwikert has firsthand knowledge of the issues involved in the sports litigation niche may be an understatement.
Schwikert’s background as an Olympic gymnast and as a sports agent representing female athletes drove her to become a lawyer, and she wears the hat of plaintiff as well, in ongoing litigation against USA Gymnastics.
Now, her next hurdle as a midlevel associate is expanding her transactional practice into sports law.
“I can put myself in an athlete’s shoes. I’m familiar with the struggles … the complexities of being an athlete,” said Schwikert, who joined Munck Wilson Mandala late last month as an associate in Dallas. Schwikert, who came from the Las Vegas office of Holland & Hart, is also one of several former elite gymnasts who has sued USA Gymnastics over the sex abuse scandal that ultimately resulted in a 120-year prison sentence for former team doctor Larry Nassar.
Munck Wilson managing partner William Munck said Schwikert’s goals as a lawyer fit into his firm’s practice representing amateur athletes who are ‘being unfairly treated.” According to the firm’s website, Munck Wilson represents athletes in litigation over conflicts of interest, embezzlement, discrimination in public school athletic programs and unethical conduct.
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“She’s a fighter. Win, lose or draw, she’s going to show up every day and fight like hell. Those are the folks most successful here and great success here means great success for our clients,” he said.
Munck Wilson has been building a sports litigation practice since 2014, when Munck personally filed a federal suit against a for-profit lacrosse organization in north Texas, alleging it had operated in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The suit settled under confidential terms.
He said the firm handles two to four matters for athletes a year.
Schwikert can relate to issues facing amateur athletes. She was a member of the United States gymnastics team that won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Schwikert and her sister Jordan Cobb, also a former elite gymnast, filed fraud and racketeering complaints in October 2018 against USA Gymnastics in Los Angeles Superior Court. That litigation is on hold after USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy protection last December. Schwikert is a co-chair of a special bankruptcy committee representing the interests of more than 500 women who brought sexual abuse allegations against Nassar.
A spokeswoman for USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to a request for comment on allegations in Schwikert’s suit.
Schwikert moved to Dallas and Munck Wilson because her husband, professional basketball player Mike Moser, took a player development position with the Dallas Mavericks. When asked for a comment on Schwikert’s departure, a spokeswoman for Holland & Hart wrote that the firm wishes her “every success.”
After college at UCLA, and then a stint as a stunt double on the ABC Family show “Make It or Break It,” Schwikert took a job representing female Olympic athletes as an agent at Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles. That work inspired her to become a lawyer.
“I loved my job, loved what I did. I just felt like I’d better have the tools to help the girls,” she said.
She graduated from the William S. Boyd School of Law in Las Vegas in 2015. Most of her practice so far has been concentrated in corporate, real estate and construction matters, but she is excited to shift gears at Munck and begin representing athletes again, this time as a lawyer.
“Being an athlete for over 25 years, sports [are] near and dear to my heart. I understand the dynamic of what a high-level athlete goes through,” she said.