What Maryland Can Do with DJ Durkin -An Employment Contract Analysis

During a preseason workout, University of Maryland redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jordan McNair collapsed after a conditioning test comprised of ten 100-yard sprints (a.k.a. "suicides," a common athletics drill). From there, he was hospitalized and died two weeks later from heatstroke complications. Exactly what happened on the field during training that day and exactly who was on the field overseeing the workouts is currently under investigation.

The reports so far contain a lot of alleged details, but we will not know more of the full story until the investigations are complete. What we do know comes from a Tuesday press conference [see full transcript], UMD President Wallace D. Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans stated that McNair's treatment did not include cold-water immersion and that "care we provided was not consistent with best practices." Moreover, Loh went on to say that they met with McNair's family to apologize and take "legal and moral responsibility" for what happened leading up to their son's death. We also know that Maryland Head Football Coach DJ Durkin, along with three of his staff members, were placed on administrative leave and that strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, the man who was running the workout, officially received the boot.

There could be many components at play here that we, unfortunately, need to wait to truly find out: any signs of struggle earlier in the workout; whether proper protocol was followed by the coaches, including those for precautions under certain conditions and medical guidelines for attending to any resulting injuries; whether Durkin was aware of the workout conditions; whether Durkin was aware of any protocols not being followed; whether Durkin was there when it all went down (according to reports, he was there); and whether McNair had any pre-existing health conditions that people were unaware of could also come into play in determining how toxic the football culture at Maryland is under Durkin's watch.

So, what can Maryland do with DJ Durkin, from a legitimate legal perspective?

To figure this out, let's (a) go over why we are focusing on the exact terms of Durkin's contract with Maryland, (b) highlight a few sections that may be triggered in determining what will happen with Durkin's employment status, & (c) use those sections to support the three potential scenarios - firing with "cause", firing without "cause", or keeping him.

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What OSU Can Do With Urban Meyer - An Employment Contract Analysis

Ohio State University is the latest entity trapped in the knotted-up business ethics & moral dilemma of what to do with a person of high authority who could have known about domestic violence allegations against a staffer and failed to do what he was supposed to do. Yesterday afternoon, OSU placed head football coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave while the university conducts an investigation into the issue at hand - whether Meyer knew about the domestic violence allegations against his former wide receiver coach, Zach Smith, by his ex-wife Courtney Smith and failed to follow the university's protocol according to the terms of his employment.

Expect a resolution very quickly. The football team starts practices in a few days, and when someone is placed on paid administrative leave, that is a pretty good sign that the parties involved are negotiating terms of separation. Here, it is uncertain at this time whether OSU interprets Meyers possible behavior as violating the terms of his employment. Furthermore, that would absolutely influence how OSU goes about any separation discussions, but at the same time, it would be understandable that both parties want to handle this and move forward in a swift, adequate fashion.

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The Cost of Becoming a Nation of Laputans

In the Jonathan Swift classic Gulliver’s Travels the main character encounters an island in the sky called Laputa. The aristocratic residents of the island were described as being so engrossed in thought that they often required servants to prod them as they were walking so they wouldn’t walk into stationary objects and each other.

All anyone needs to do is look at crowds of United States citizens engrossed in their mobile devices while walking to see how much they represent Laputans in this regard, but the cost of being out of touch with their environment has more serious consequences than needing assistance to navigate walkways.

Governmental bodies, and the individuals with deep pockets who fund their election campaigns, at all levels have taken advantage of citizens’ disinterest and indifference to their activities to turn what was created to be a representative republic into an unconstitutional oligarchy. This has been evidenced at the city level by repeated abuses of “emergency measures” to bypass the need for approval of the populace at large before handing public dollars over to professional sports teams.

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US Army Wades Into Battle With Las Vegas Golden Knights

The Las Vegas Golden Knights haven’t had a whole lot of problems in their unprecedentedly successful inaugural season.

Since 1960, none of the 64 expansion teams to launch in the NHL, NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball managed so much as a winning season. Then, the Knights came along winning the Pacific Division, posting a .655 winning percentage, and sweeping their first-round playoff series with the Los Angeles Kings...

... But their toughest battle may be off the ice.

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Fun Facts & Implications You Should Know for the 2018 NFL Draft

This weekend is the 83rd Annual National Football League Player Selection Meeting, a.k.a. the 2018 NFL Draft! If a team has a successful draft, Lord knows that its trajectory can change dramatically. Because of these stakes, the league has formalized the process over the years to (try to) become more equitable to every team. As you can imagine, player selection means contracts on contracts on contracts, rules and regulation enforcement, a shift from amateur to professional status, and OH so much more law-related fun. Here are a few fun bits of knowledge y'all should store in your brains.

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Accounting for Publicity: Scott Foster & Group Licensing Under Collective Bargaining

On March 29, 2018, while preparing for a home game against the Winnipeg Jets, the Chicago Blackhawks suddenly found themselves without prospective starter Anton Forsberg, who was injured during his off-ice warmups. With nobody else available to back up now-starter-by-necessity Collin Delia (making his own NHL debut as a recent call up from AHL Rockford), the Blackhawks signed 36-year-old, former Western Michigan University goaltender Scott Foster to a one-day amateur tryout contract. The catch? Foster last played for the WMU Broncos in 2006 (for reference, Jonathan Toews’s freshman year at University of North Dakota) and is employed as an accountant for Golub Capital.

By now, the rest is history: with the Blackhawks up 6-2 over Winnipeg, and with Delia suddenly incapacitated with cramps with 14 minutes to go in the third period... who is this guy in the black Vaughns and the AC/DC mask?... let’s check the program for #90... he wouldn’t be in the program on such short notice... yep, there he is, emergency goaltender Scott Foster! Foster made seven saves on seven shots, preserving the win and earning a first star of the game and a story of a lifetime. In a rush to beat the April 17, 2018 filing deadline with the IRScapitalize on Foster’s (almost literally) fifteen minutes of fame, the Blackhawks put out this tweet in order to (sorry, can’t help it) hawk some merchandise...

What is wrong with this story, and why am I flagging the Chicago Blackhawks for an audit? Let’s open the books.

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Esports Levels Up - Franchising & Antitrust

The year was 2017. It was a simpler time - no 16 seed had beat a 1 seed in March - but that is when the world of esports revolutionized. League of Legends had announced its 2018 season of the North America League Championship Series would move to a franchise model. The Overwatch League (“OWL”), a franchise league for Blizzard’s popular title Overwatch, was beginning to take shape. And then, like UMBC’s upset, the NBA announced an esports franchise league out of nowhere: the NBA 2K League (“2K League”). For the inaugural season of the League, seventeen of the thirty NBA franchises will participate.

Up until the announcement of the 2K League, every franchise league looked like a shell of what we know. For example, the the OWL has city based teams, like the San Francisco Shock, player minimums, and player benefits. The announcement of the OWL promised more than this shell, specifically announcing a player combine and draft. These events, however, never came to fruition. Then came the 2K League, with not only player minimums and and city based teams, but also a combine and a draft. The 2K League announced an application process, followed up by a player combine, and then a draft. Thousands applied, 250 people participated in the combine, 102 and will be draft eligible. The combine ran through the month of February and the draft lottery order was selected on March 13 (with Mavs Gaming, the Dallas Mavericks, winning the first overall pick). The draft will take place April 4 at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden’s Lobby (1 p.m. ET).

Although it is incredible to see the growth of esports and creation of franchise leagues, one has to wonder whether these leagues will ever face litigation surrounding a complex body of law that all traditional sports leagues have faced: Antitrust. This post seeks to give a 30,000 foot view of antitrust, what defenses/exemptions are available, and present arguments for the leagues. A majority of the discussion will focus on the 2K League because, to me, it presents the greatest antitrust battle.

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An Excerpt from "Sports Are Worth How Much!? And Other Questions In Pro Sports, Answered (Kind Of)"

The following passage is an excerpt from Justin Bedi's Sports Are Worth How Much!? And Other Questions In Pro Sports, Answered (Kind Of), from the chapter “The History and Impact of Unions In Pro Sports”. It has been edited and condensed to appear in this publication.

“Love them or hate them, unions are a part of the way the working world is organized.

The labor movement has touched virtually every corner of the globe and has impacted every industry, from steelmaking and car manufacturing, to the public service and piloting, to the world of professional sports.

Unions are undoubtedly controversial; on a scale from nuisance to difficult problem, business owners see unions as industry death knells, and on the other side, workers see them as vital to protecting their rights. The debate over the impact and effectiveness of unions is fraught with realities, myths, and hyperbole, and this is particularly true of the professional sports industry, because every part of sports is exciting—even the unions.

Unionism in professional sports boils down to an inherent conflict between billionaire owners and millionaire athletes—the kind of drama that drives daytime soap operas. And due to the overwhelming popularity and cultural significance of professional sports in the U.S. and Canada, the everlasting drama between team owners and athletes has been highly publicised and made accessible to the public.

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