CT Sports Law’s Top Story Line of 2009

1.  Collegiate coaching contracts.  The year 2009 began and ended with stories of college contracts, the virtual free agency within which coaches operate, and the struggle between coaches and universities to gain the upper hand.

In January, Jeff Jagodzinski was fired by Boston College for merely interviewing with the New York Jets.  His contract didn’t prohibit him from taking the interview, but Boston College’s AD believed Jagodzinski had breached the terms of their mutual understanding. 

BC-Jagodzinski Contract: Expectations Unfulfilled

This past summer, Marist College took the unusual step of filing suit against former basketball coach Matt Brady and James Madison University, the school that hired Brady while he as under contract with Marist.

Marist Sues Former Basketball Coach for Breach of Contract

A More Detailed Look at Marist v. Brady

The Jagodzinski and Brady stories were interesting as they appeared to represent a shift in the wind.  Perhaps universities were tiring of a system in which coaches routinely ignore the terms of their contracts when better opportunities arise.  But the end of 2009 demonstrated that in big-time athletics, there is no such thing as a long-term contract.  Brian Kelly left Cincinnati for Notre Dame, not only while he was under contract, but while his team was preparing for the Sugar Bowl against Florida.  UConn’s Randy Edsall was rumored to be a candidate to coach the Irish, despite being under contract to UConn.  Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh signed a 5-year extension yet wouldn’t guarantee that he’d be coaching the Cardinal in the fall. 

Edsall to Notre Dame Talk Shows All Coaches are Free Agents

College Coaching Contracts Not Written on Stone Tablets

Yesterday, a different type of story played out.  Texas Tech fired Mike Leach amidst allegations that he forced a player suffering from a concussion to spend time in a dark equipment garage.   Leach was fired for cause, meaning Texas Tech is not obligated to pay him the balance of his contract.  SI.com and Sports Law Blog’s Michael McCann has the story

The Leach-Texas Tech dispute, and potential legal action, guarantees that collegiate coaching contracts will continue to be a hot topic in 2010, just as they were in 2009.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] Sports Law has a terrific top list of sports law stories from 2009, with the number one being college coaches contracts and the law. Hope you have a chance to check out the links and […]

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