Unless you have been living under a rock in the sports world this week then you would have heard about Billy Donovan’s U-Turn from the Orlando Magic.
Billy Donovan, former Gator basketball coach decides to leave UF and take the head coach position at Orlando Magic. Donovan, who took the Gator’s to 2 consecutive titles turned down a contract extension worth $3.5 mil. a year to sign a 5 year $27.5 mil. deal. [Donovan says ‘hello’ to Magic; goodbye to Gators]
Seems pretty straight forward but 24 hours later there Donovan was having second thoughts and wanted out of Orlando and to re-join Florida.
What I want to focus on is the ramifications of reneging on a contract.
Some may have read my post on NRL player Steve Turner [U-Turn(er)]. In that case the deal was monetary plus players. Obviously players can not be traded in this instance.
While the terms of the contract release by Magic haven’t been disclosed [Magic release Donovan from contract], there is one clause that would be put in place.
Drawing on an Australian case (and what I learned in my Sport and the Law class), which I think holds relevance to Donovan’s predicament is Buckenara vs. Hawthorn. Gary Buckenara played for Hawthorn FC, but wanted to play for West Coast FC. He sued Hawthorn claiming restraint of trade, while Hawthorn sought an injunction. Obviously any financial compensation was irrelevant, as it is difficult to quantify.
The court restricted Buckenara from playing football for any club in the same league as Hawthorn.
This would be a likely clause in the settlement of Orlando and Donovan, with Donovan not being able to take a job in the NBA for the life of the contract that he had with Magic.
As being a basketball coach is his only profession, a restraint on Billy not coaching any team would be too much, taking a massive toll on his livelihood.
Let it be known that if a player/coach/athlete etc. has any other form of skill, a restraint on them competing/coaching in any form may be upheld.
In the case of Hardie vs. Hawthorn, it shared similar attributes to the Buckenara case. However, Hardie was also a tradesman, and the court banned Hardie playing football altogether.
another vital rule is:
In contracts involving personal services the law states that performance of that contract will never be enforced
These issues are important for Agents to learn so they understand what ramifications will happen if their client renegs on his/her contract.
– Chris Lesley