Headline NBA Players Sports Law

Joel Bell Does Not Agree With Interpretation Of Maryland Uniform Athlete Agents Act

Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves is certainly thankful that the NBA season will soon commence.  He also has to be happy that he was granted summary judgment in the lawsuit filed against him by his former agent Joel Bell of Bell Sports, Inc.  As reported by the Washington Post, the judge granted Beasley summary judgment after finding that Beasley’s marketing deal with Bell was void based on the fact that Bell was not a licensed sports agent in Maryland.  Bell has stated that he plans to file an appeal.

Section 4-403 of the Maryland Uniform Athlete Agents Act is titled, “Acting as athlete agent without license.”  4-403(a) reads, “an individual may not act as an athlete agent in the State without holding a license under § 4-405 of this subtitle. ”  Does this mean that agents who sign agreements with any athletes, amateurs or professionals, must hold a license?  4-403(b) makes it seem as if it is a law regarding the signing of student-athletes.  This is an issue that will come up in appeal.

When Beasley left Bell Sports, Inc., the company filed the lawsuit against Beasley based on his non-payment of commissions stemming from a marketing deal with Adidas that Bell Sports believed it was owed.  Bell Sports claimed that it was owed its 20% commission, because the company supposedly negotiated most of the deal with Adidas prior to Beasley’s split.  A marketing agreement dated March 26, 2008 between Bell Sports and Beasley stipulates that Beasley agrees to pay Bell Sports 20% “pursuant to any agreement, arrangement, or association…on which negotiations substantially commenced during the term of this Agreement…”

Bell was a licensed agent in Kansas when he recruited and signed Beasley out of Kansas State.  Now the issue is whether he needed to be licensed when he served as Beasley’s marketing agent.  The marketing agreement that Beasley signed with Bell stipulates that the agreement is governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of Maryland.

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.