Using Contract Law to Tackle the Coaching Carousel01 Jan 2013
This Article suggests that student-athletes can protect themselves (and, indirectly, fans and students at the university at which they are about to enroll) by securing a binding promise from the coach that he will not voluntarily leave the university throughout the student-athlete's career. This promise could be in a legally binding contract directly between the coach and student-athlete, or by adding to the coach's employment contract with the university a proviso expressly designating student-athletes as third party beneficiaries. Part I briefly describes the problems resulting from the coaching carousel and describes the potential for contracts that limit a coach's mobility to minimize harmful effects on student-athletes. Part II explains why contracts in which the coach agrees to provide unique sports services are legally enforceable and how contracts can effectively bind a coach through the issuance of a negative injunction. Part III analyzes the bargaining dynamics between coaches, universities, and star athletes, and concludes that the requisite dynamics are likely present in some cases to successfully negotiate each of the contracts. Finally, Part IV discusses why current National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA") rules should be interpreted to permit voluntary contracts, enforceable by the student-athlete, that limit a coach's ability to terminate his coaching contract and accept an offer that advances his own professional aspirations at the expense of students who relied on his tutelage to develop their own careers.