NBA Agent Successfully Sues Fellow Agent

The legal concept of interference with contractual relations continues to arise in the sports arena.  As Connecticut Sports Law has covered in some detail, Marist College successfully brought suit against its former basketball coach, Matt Brady, and his new employer, James Madison University (JMU), after Brady left Marist while under contract.  Marist alleged that Brady breached his coaching contract and that JMU facilitated the breach.  Although Marist essentially won on a technicality (a default judgment), its willingness to challenge the virtual free agency system in coaching has the potential to transform collegiate athletics.

Similarly, NBA agent Keith Glass’ successful suit against fellow agent Andy Miller may have precedential value in the sports agent business.  At arbitration Glass was awarded $40,000, but the true value of this case can only be determined in time.  Howard Beck of the New York Times has the story:

In a ruling issued this summer, an arbitrator found that the agent, Andy Miller, had illegally interfered with Douby’s relationship with another agent, Keith Glass. Miller was ordered to pay $40,000 in damages.

The sum is modest, but the judgment is noteworthy, representing one of the few times that an N.B.A. agent has been punished for, in essence, stealing a client. Agents complain about the practice all the time. But lawsuits are rare, and sanctions even more so, because cases are difficult to prove.

When Glass won his case, it was the equivalent of hitting a game-winning shot at the buzzer from the opposite baseline.

“This certainly has the potential to be a significant case,” said Gabriel Feldman, a law professor at Tulane and director of the university’s sports law program. “It’s rare for an agent to successfully sue another agent for client-poaching, or tampering, or tortious interference, or whatever you want to call it.”

Click here for article in its entirety.

The Marist and Glass cases were both based upon a long-standing legal principle that is rarely applied in the business of sports.  It bears watching whether these cases will change the businesses of collegiate coaching and sports agents respectively.

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