The Convergence Of Bear Bryant And Johnny Football – Lessons In Compliance

by Thomas Fox

Sedona Arizona is known for its four vortexes, some of those alleged places where the universe has holes in it or overlaps (I can’t remember which). I have been to Sedona but I have never experienced such convergence (or the voids for that matter). However, in other ways the universe does seem to converge in the most oddest of circumstances. Two days ago, on 9/11, was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant, the legendary college football coach. Bryant is well known for his six national championships at the University of Alabama. But before he made his way to Alabama, he was the head football coach at Texas A&M University. In 1957 he took A&M to the brink of the national championship, leading the nation with an undefeated record until losing the final two games of the season by a combined score of 3 points.

How is this preternatural? The University of Alabama travels to College Station to play Texas A&M University this Saturday. Added to this oddness is the fact that yet another former Texas A&M coach, who actually played for Bryant on that 1957 team – Gene Stallings, won a national championship while the head coach at Alabama in 1992. While Alabama does have the last two national championships under its belt, what A&M has is two wins over Alabama the last two times they played. And, of course, A&M has the reigning Heisman trophy winner – Johnny Football.

The compliance angle? Sometimes things just seem to line up rather eerily. Earlier this week, the FCPA Blog, in a post entitled “China to Fortune 500: Confess, you’ll feel better”, reported that representatives of over 30 western-based firms were gathered in Beijing in July “to receive a stern message from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) division chief, Xu Xinyu.” His warning was that the companies would be well-advised to self-disclose economic crimes, such as bribery and corruption, “before they are found out, or face harsh penalties. He also stated that companies who mount a defence against accusations made by the NDRC would face even stiffer punishment.” His warning would seem to follow the traditional Chinese Communist party tactic of facilitating “self-criticism” and then use this information as a road map to redemption. While of course couched in language and persuasiveness that is unique to China, it would certainly appear as if such steps are akin to self-disclosure and remediation, which are cornerstones of any best practices compliance program.

This convergence is yet another reason that I believe that the GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK) corruption scandal in China will be a true game-changer in compliance. We basically have the Chinese government telling companies that they need to self-disclose any violations of Chinese law or face stiffer penalties in an enforcement action. The GSK scandal has demonstrated just how different western and Chinese legal systems and procedures can be. But it does appear that one thing the Chinese want is cooperation. The FCPA Blog reported a Reuters source said that some of the companies who participated in this meeting were known to be “GE, Siemens, Samsung Electronics, Microsoft, Volvo, IBM Corp, Michelin, Swedish packaging giant Tetra Pak, Intel Corp, Qualcomm, Dumex, a subsidiary of Danone, and U.S. cable equipment maker Arris Group Inc.” Further, the “the NDRC has launched nearly 20 probes in the past three years, and has hinted that more investigations into local and multinational firms are in the works.”

The message for the compliance practitioner is clear. If you have operations in China, they need to be scrutinized now. But, equally important, use this teachable moment to demonstrate to management the risks of doing business in jurisdictions with a high perception or preponderance of corruption.

So what will happen at the convergence this weekend in College Station? All I can say is something I never say GIG’EM AGGIES.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Thomas Fox, Compliance Evangelist | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Thomas Fox

Compliance Evangelist on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.