College Hoops Coach Firing Trend Raises Contract Concerns
Law360, March 30, 2018
In several high-profile college basketball coaching changes this year, schools have sought to justify the termination as “for cause” to avoid or limit multimillion-dollar contract buyouts, evidence of a trend that experts say should have coaches and their attorneys more carefully scrutinizing contracts moving forward.
Poor performance is generally not grounds for termination under high-level coaching contracts, so schools have reportedly sought to justify terminations for other reasons some have found surprising. With college coaching salaries skyrocketing and schools looking to retain the best coaches, attorneys say schools have found themselves in a predicament when a coaching hire is not successful on the court or on the field.
“Traditionally, universities have rarely used [just cause] to fire coaches because the contract requires a finding of some kind of unethical conduct,” said entertainment and sports attorney Glen A. Rothstein, Founder & CEO of Rothstein Law APC in Santa Monica, CA. “That is really the standard in this particular industry.”
But new attempts to fire for cause “certainly is a trend,” Rothstein said. “… I think you are going to see more and more schools attempt to use just cause provisions to avoid extremely coach-friendly buyouts.”