Marist Claims Victory in Coaching Contract Suit

Karl Rabe/Poughkeepsie Journal

The willingness of a small New York university to enforce one of its coaching contracts in a court of law, may effect the virtual free-agency system that has long operated in collegiate athletics

A New York Supreme Court entered a judgment of default in favor of Marist University in its lawsuit against James Madison University (JMU).  Marist alleged that JMU tortiously intefered with its contract with former basketball coach Matt Brady.  JMU hired Brady shortly after he signed an extension with Marist, and was allegedly involved in the recruitment of players that had been originally recruited to play at Marist, contrary to a specific clause in Brady’s contract with Marist. 

Marist’s attorney, Paul O’Sullivan, spoke of the court’s ruling in terms of its effects on the larger landscape of collegiate athletics:

This case could well set a precedent for college and university athletics nationwide…Coaches have to abide by contracts, and other institutions have to respect those agreements. If that contract is breached, damages will be assessed. It’s a simple lesson in fiduciary responsibility and contractual obligation.

On July 25, the parties will return to Court for a hearing on damages.

Considering that the court entered a judgment of default, rather than a decision on the merits, the value of the decision as legal precedent is likely limited.  However, the decision may be much more important in terms of how universities view coaching contracts, and how they choose to enforce such contracts.  Simply stated, Marist v. Brady may show universities that they need not submit to the view that coaching contracts are the sports equivalent of prenuptial agreements.

For additional coverage of Marist v. Brady and the implications on work of collegiate coaching, see the Connecticut Sports Law article A More Detailed Look at Marist v. Brady.

Click here to read the court’s decision.

Check out Gabe Feldman’s thoughts on the decision, and the “no-recruit clause”, over at the Sports Law Blog.

Also, check out Connecticut Sports Law’s coverage of collegiate coaching contracts:

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

Virtual Free Agency in College Coaching


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