Contract Negotiation Sports Agents Sports Law

Get It In Writing

I have not yet taken Contract Law (I still have about 1 month of freedom before I am launched into the pits of Law School hell), but I did learn some information about contracts when I took a Sports Law class while completing my undergraduate degree. I learned that there is such a thing as a verbal contract, but that it is much better to get everything in writing. I would amend that statement and suggest that if you want to be in this industry, you should get all deals in writing, and never accept a verbal agreement.

There have been successful verbal agreements in the past between an agent/client, agent/team, etc, but there are too many instances where those agreements have turned to waste. Jody Vance of SLAM! Sports looks back to the deal that Wayne Gretzky originally verbally agreed to with representative Michael Barnett of IMG [Never quite a done deal]. That ended up working out just fine, but the story goes on to reveal a recent case, where a hand shake was not good enough to keep promises.

The Edmonton Oilers believed that they were going to sign free agent Michael Nylander because his agent, Mike Gillis, said that the terms of the agreement were acceptable. The problem was that the Oilers assumed that they had Nylander when Nylander never actually signed a contract. The same situation can occur in a player/agent relationship. An agent may believe that he/she has locked up a client, but until the standard representation agreement has been signed and a copy has been obtained by both parties, there is really no principal/agent relationship.

Moral of story: make sure to get everything in writing!

-Darren Heitner

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

2 replies on “Get It In Writing”

Employment contracts that cannot be performed in one year are required to be in writing so as to satisfy the Statute of Frauds.

See Hopper v. Lennen & Mitchell, Inc., (C.C.A. 9th, 1944) 146 F.2d 364, inter alia. Furthermore, I believe most states codify the common law Statute of Frauds. After a brief search on lexis nexis this is confirmed: see Cal. Civ. Code (1941) Section 1624.

We all remember the Ted Williams frozen head situation. For an interesting article on the situation surrounding this written contract check out:

Go Red Sox.

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