Sports Law Today - Spring 2010

by Ropes & Gray LLP

In this Issue

• The Tiger Effect: The Future of Morals Clauses in Endorsement Agreements 1

• NCAA Bylaw A School’s Worst Vacation 2

• Preparing for the End . . . From the Beginning: Drafting Termination Provisions in an Employment Contract 4

• Back in the Groove: Will the Ping Eye2 Iron be an Unexpected Catalyst for Change? 5

The Tiger Effect: The Future of Morals Clauses in Endorsement Agreements

By Patrick E. Fitzsimmons and Lindsey R. Goldstein

In light of the recent headlines surrounding Tiger Woods, endorsement contracts and the provisions governing their termination are garnering much attention. Woods’ fall from grace has been quick and steep, and is likely — even if he’s able to re-establish his public goodwill — to impact endorsement contracts for the near future....

NCAA Bylaw A School’s Worst Vacation

By Christopher Conniff and Ned Sebelius

Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden capped his storied 57-year coaching career with a win in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day, 2010. Just four days later, however, the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee upheld a penalty that vacated 12 wins from the Seminoles’ 2006 and 2007 football seasons because ineligible student-athletes participated in those games. Instead of retiring with 389 career wins, Bowden will retire with 377 career wins in the record books. Last year, the University of Memphis suffered a similar fate when the Infractions Committee vacated all of the wins during the 2007-2008 season of its men’s basketball program, including the wins earned during the team’s participation in the NCAA tournament, because the Committee determined that one ineligible player had played in those games. While it is not always possible to identify NCAA infractions in a timely manner, these two cases demonstrate the harsh consequences of not doing so; namely, that the NCAA often will impose a “vacation” penalty and vacate any win in a game in which an ineligible player participated. This article provides some basic tips to help avoid an unplanned “vacation.........."

Preparing for the End . . . From the Beginning: Drafting Termination Provisions in an Employment Contract

By Ryan Schaffer

Nobody likes to think about divorce as they prepare to walk down the aisle. And nobody likes to think about termination immediately prior to commencing an employment relationship. However, thinking through, and insisting on clearly drafted termination provisions in an employment contract is critically important for employers and both professional and collegiate coaches and their families. Some of the best and most respected coaches in the business have been fired during their career, and, whether a coach is moving up or just out, it is more likely than not that a coaching relationship ends with a termination....

Back in the Groove: Will the Ping Eye2 Iron Be an Unexpected Catalyst for Change?

By Matthew Elliot and Matthew Byron

“Phil Mickelson Accused of Cheating at Torrey Pines” — The New York Times, January 29, 2010

From the Tiger Woods debacle to the recent revelations about John Daly’s personal struggles, it has been a tough year for the PGA Tour. But setting the tabloid fodder aside, golfers were far more intrigued when Phil Mickelson, one of the sport’s biggest stars, a fan favorite, and the world’s number two player, was accused of cheating by a fellow pro, Scott McCarron, for using a golf club that many believe provides an unfair advantage over other legal clubs. While it quickly became clear that Mickelson was not cheating, and that he was instead taking advantage of a loophole in the rule that specifically permitted use of the club, a fascinating inside story from the world of golf came to light. As Mickelson later revealed, his true motive for playing the club was to simultaneously express disgust over the lack of transparency of the decisions of golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Professional Golf Association (PGA), and how a clumsy rule change once again called into question the Tour’s respect for its players....

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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