Headline Sports Law

New Legal Scholarship On Conflict Of Interest In Sport

Announcing new Sports Law scholarship by Jason Belzer and me in ASU's Sports and Entertainment Journal.
Announcing new Sports Law scholarship by Jason Belzer and me in ASU’s Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.

It is with great excitement that I announce the publication of a new law journal article that I wrote in conjunction with Collegiate Sports Advisors co-founder, Jason Belzer, that was released late February.  Titled, An Offer They Should Refuse: Why Conflicts of Interest Raised by Dual Representation among Player Agents is a Major Threat to the NCAA and Professional Leagues, our writing is the lead article Volume 2, Issue 2 of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.

The printed abstract is as follows:

Professional sports leagues, players associations, and the NCAA have adopted countless rules and regulations to protect the interests of the players they employ or represent. For all the effort put into policing their respective sports and adding integrity to their brands, the majority of professional and amateur sports organizations have done little-to-nothing with regards to limiting the myriad of adverse effects that arise when sports agents are allowed to represent both players and coaches or front-office personnel. Although the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility provide ethical standards of conduct for attorneys, many agents who are not members of a bar continue to use the lack of conflict of interest rules to take advantage of leagues, teams and players to benefit their own bottom line. This article explores the issues that arise from such conflict of interest, presents examples of nefarious behavior by agents, and provides solutions to fix a grave threat to professional and amateur athletics.

The article is broken up into five Parts.  Part I provides an overview of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which provide the minimum level of conduct permissible for a lawyer to avoid disciplinary action.  Part II focuses on the rules related to conflicts of interest.  Part III explores various players associations’ rules and regulations governing player agents.  Part IV provides real-life examples of conflicts that prominent agents experience in the co-representation of professional athletes and coaches and/or front-office personnel.  Finally, Part V seeks to find solutions to the inherent problems that exist in the current system that tacitly permits cross-representation.

Click here to access the entire Issue, and feel free to leave your comments about our article.

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.