Want to Go Out on Your Own?…Then Start From Scratch
The MLB Player’s Association has traditionally been more lax when it comes to agent regulation. While the NBA and NFL players’ associations require potential agents to have a college degree and a graduate degree, respectively, and have a formal registration process, those wishing to represent baseball players must only contact the league about certification after a client has made a 40-man roster. However, it seems that the MLBPA has decided that they want to keep a better check on their agents’ business practices, contemplating a move that could be a major blow to agents that want to leave their current company and start their own agency.
The MLB players union wants to start penalizing certified agents that violate their non-compete and non-solicitation agreements with their former employers. Everyone remembers the scene from Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise and Jay Mohr hit the phones to entice Maguire’s clients to stay at Maguire’s former employer, or join Maguire at his new start up agency. The MLBPA may implement new measures with the intention that such a scenario would no longer be in a issue in baseball player representation.
The proposed rule change would allow agent employment contracts to contain a one-year no-solicitation clause, and a one-year no-competition clause. Remedies proposed for agents who breach these contract clauses include a 50 percent fee split between the agent and his former employer, and an option for the players association to impose disciplinary action on the agent.
Central oversight by the players association will help create a more even level playing field for agents. Currently agencies only have state contract law as recourse against employees leaving with clients, and some states, like California, do not recognize non-compete and non-solicitation clauses in contracts.