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Cuban Defectors Affect Their Agents

el duque

Cuba is known for producing remarkable talent on the diamond.  Its players are followed by every single MLB organization, and many agents dream about getting their hands on the next Cuban-born prospect.  Recently, the baseball world has been caught up with what team Cuba’s most recent defector, Aroldis Chapman, will sign with.  Chapman is just the newest Cuban player to clog the headlines, but in the past, many others have been in the spotlight, and unfortunately, so have their agents.

Representing Cuban defectors is risky business.  Gustavo “Gus” Dominguez, co-founder of California-based Total Sports International Inc., was handed a five-year prison term in April 2008 for smuggling prospects out of Cuba.  Juan Ignacio Hernández Nodar, was a Miami-based sports agent who received a fifteen-year sentence for the same thing: helping Cuban players defect from the island.  Nodar was recently released one-and-a half -years earlier than the full length of the sentence.  You can thank Nodar for being able to watch Orlando “El Duque” Hernández over the years.

The U.S. and Cuban governments tried to make examples out of Gus and Nodar, and for a long time, we have heard little about Cuban baseball defections.  It makes me wonder how closely government officials have been monitoring Aroldis Chapman’s defection.  I assume that his agents were especially careful in the way they managed his affairs.  One would hope so based on the penalties handed down to guys like Dominguez and Nodar.

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 “Cuban Defectors Affect Their Agents”

Hey Darren. Very interesting and informative article on Cuban clients and their agents. It is especially interesting timing given some of the possible tampering you spoke about in a previous article regarding a certain agency and possible employees of said agency! Good stuff.


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