SBJ/May 20-26, 2013/Labor and Agents

NBPA’s Stackhouse: Search for leader in full swing

National Basketball Players Association officials met with NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr and MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner last month as part of their effort to find a new head for the players union.

“The process has started, and for anyone to think we are not moving forward is inaccurate,” said Jerry Stackhouse, a member of the NBPA executive committee. But Stackhouse added that players are in “no rush” to replace the former executive director, Billy Hunter.

Responding to reported frustration over the pace of the selection process, Stackhouse said leaders want to take their time in rebuilding the union and involve players.

“A union is, and what it should be, is for the players, and that hasn’t happened in recent times,” he said.

NBPA leaders voted unanimously to fire Hunter on Feb. 16, after an independent investigation found that he had acted in his own interests and against players’ interest in running the union.

Last week, Hunter sued the NBPA and President Derek Fisher for defamation and breach of contract stemming from his dismissal.

Stackhouse and Ron Klempner, who is the NBPA’s deputy general counsel and who has been acting executive director since Hunter was fired, attended a meeting with Fehr and Weiner at the MLBPA headquarters in Manhattan in April. In addition to Fehr and Weiner, Tony Clark, a former MLB first baseman who is now MLBPA director of player relations, and Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenseman who is now the NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, also attended the meeting.

Both Fehr and Weiner confirmed that the meeting occurred but declined further comment.

Fehr’s name has been mentioned as a potential successor to Hunter, but he reaffirmed last week that he intends to stay at the NHLPA.

Stackhouse said he was seeking information on how unions are run, as well as the processes unions have used to elect an executive director. News of the meeting comes as some NBA agents have privately been grumbling that nothing was happening in the search for a new union leader. Stackhouse, who is represented by Excel Sports Management founder Jeff Schwartz, said that was not the case.

He added that he and other executive committee members have been gathering information and meeting with various people, including search firms and potential candidates, since February.

Stackhouse said he has met with about 50 people, including three executive search firms, but would not reveal details. He said the NBPA would likely pick a search firm, but their intent is to get input from all players on what kind of person they want to lead the NBPA before hiring a firm. “Until we decide what we want our union to look like, what do we need a search firm for?” Stackhouse said.

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