The New Frontier: The Representation of Coaches and Negotiation of Coaching Contracts

This article is based on “Negotiating Professional & Collegiate Coaching Contracts”, a presentation by Joel Corry and Craig E. Fenech, at the Sports Lawyers Association Conference.

The dramatic salary increases in college and professional coaching has led to the emergence of a new area of sports law: the representation of coaches in contract negotiations.  For a sports attorney or agent, the representation of coaches can be significantly different than the representation of a player.  Nevertheless, both areas of sports law are extremely competitive for agents.

Challenges in Representing Coaches:

1.  There is no collective bargaining agreement and no union for coaches.  Accordingly, it is difficult for an agent to obtain information, such as the salaries for coaches for competitive programs, for use in negotiations.  (Conversely, players’ salaries are available through the respective league unions).  Moreover, there are no rules or regulations governing coaching contracts or the representation of coaches.  The result is a “wild west” atmosphere in this area of sports law.

2.  The competition among agents is fierce.  First, the number of high-paying coaching jobs is finite.  Second, many agents are willing to represent coaches for free in hopes of gaining access to the coaches’ players.  Third, many alumni, supporters and boosters who might also be attorneys are willing to negotiate contracts for free to gain favor with the coaches.

3.  In college sports, some athletic directors are wary of agents or attorneys and prefer to deal with prospective coaches directly.  In the context of a high-paying job, the athletic director must overcome his or her distaste for coaches’ representatives, as professional representation is a reality of the modern business.  For lower paid jobs, such as Division II or Division II schools, and agent or representative might work behind the scenes, forming a negotiation strategy, preparing a coach for the negotiation and arming the coach with vital information to advocate for him or herself.

4.  Athletic directors and general managers can be somewhat resentful negotiating a coach’s salary that dwarfs the athletic director’s salary.  Attorney Craig Fenech, an established agent representing coaches, has on occasion has pointed out to a general manager that “a rising tide raises all ships.”

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  1. […] The New Frontier: The Representation of Coaches and Negotiation of Coaching Contracts […]

  2. […] at the highest level, is big business.  Coaching contracts are increasing in value, and the business of representing college coaches is booming.  In the wake of Jim O’Brien’s $3 million lawsuit against The Ohio State […]

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    The New Frontier: The Representation of Coaches and Negotiation of Coaching Contracts – CONNECTICUT SPORTS LAW

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