Virtual Free Agency in College Coaching

Rich Schultz, AP

Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review interviewed me last week for his article on coaching contracts.  The issue is a hot topic in Pittsburgh after Robert Morris (Quinnipiac fans, you remember Robert Morris…) basketball coach Mike Rice signed a long-term extension with the university in April.  Rice left Robert Morris to coach at Rutgers mere weeks after signing a contract extension.

Cohn writes:

Fans, boosters and the occasional university president who feel personally betrayed often see it differently. But other than occasional exceptions like the messy football divorces between West Virginia and Rich Rodriguez and Tennessee and Lane Kiffin, coaches generally receive little or no resistance from their schools when they leave for higher-paying and supposedly more prestigious jobs.

Despite buyout clauses — often paid by the coach’s new employer — contracts hold the flimsiest of ties. Except for the salary numbers, they might as well be written in invisible ink.

“It’s just the norm,” Connecticut sports lawyer Dan Fitzgerald said. “I call it virtual free agency. You have the contract, but the contract doesn’t mean anything.”

Click here to read Cohn’s article in its entirety.

College coaching contracts, the enforcement of these contracts, and the clauses that universities can insist upon to protect their interests are a favorite topic at Connecticut Sports Law.  See the following coverage for more on this issue:

Three Ways for Mid-Majors to Keep Coaching Talent

BC-Jagodzinski Contract: Expectations Unfulfilled

A More Detailed Look at Marist v. Brady

Edsall to Notre Dame Talk Shows All Coaches are Free Agents

College Coaching Contracts Not Written on Stone Tablets

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