SBJ/July 28-Aug. 3, 2014/Labor and Agents

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  • Ex-NCAA exec Silver moves to Jackson Lewis sports practice

    Jackson Lewis, a national law firm that represents management exclusively in workplace issues, has hired Geoff Silver, former NCAA director of academic and membership affairs, to bolster its sports practice in the wake of NCAA reform.

    Silver will join the law firm’s sports division, which is headed by former NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Paul Kelly and former MLB agent Gregg Clifton.

    As previously reported, national law firms with sports practices have been increasingly involved in NCAA work, as there are a number of major lawsuits challenging the amateurism model now. Jackson Lewis hired Gene Marsh, former chair of the NCAA’s university compliance committee and a former member of its infractions committee, in December.

    Silver

    Silver said the firm could be involved in work for universities and conferences involving issues in the lawsuits, as well as on the issue of unionization. The National Labor Relations Board is expected to make a decision this fall on whether Northwestern University football team players can unionize.

    But it is more likely that the firm will work to counsel schools and conferences on decisions involving what may be a different system in the future, Silver said. The NCAA will vote next month on a new governance structure that could give the so-called power conferences more autonomy in decision making.

    “Our role is going [to be] to come in and assist with the implementation of that deregulated environment,” Silver said. “We are currently in a change environment in intercollegiate athletics that is resulting in significant reform to the Division I regulatory culture. There will soon be a new governance structure which is designed, in large part, to provide our institutions the flexibility to provide an enhanced student-athlete experience.”

    Silver started his career as a management-side labor lawyer and joined the NCAA in 2005. “As much as I enjoyed my time at the NCAA and the relationships I developed while there, I felt the timing was right to make this move,” he said.

    > WME SIGNS SCHLERETH: WME has signed ESPN football analyst and former Pro Bowl guard Mark Schlereth for representation in all areas. He will be represented by television agents Josh Bider, Josh Pyatt and Lee White.

    He was formerly represented by Headline Media Management.

    In addition to his duties on ESPN, Schlereth has acted in films and television and is a successful entrepreneur, as a founder and co-owner of Stinkin’ Good Chile, which is sold in Costco, Whole Foods, Safeway and other supermarkets nationwide.

    > MATHIEU LEAVES AGENT: Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has left Galaxy Sports Advisors. Mathieu, a defensive playmaker in his rookie season last year who is recovering from knee surgery, had not chosen a new agent by press time last week for this story.

    At Galaxy Sports Advisors, agent and attorney Patrick Lawlor has represented Mathieu since he was drafted in the third round in 2013. “I am disappointed,” Lawlor said. “However, I am thrilled that I was able to go through the journey with him before the draft and until now. I wish him the best.”

    > NFLPA RAISING AGENT FEES: The NFL Players Association last week sent out a notice to all NFL agents, notifying them that annual fees would increase by $300 to $1,500 for agents with fewer than 10 clients and to $2,000 for agents with 10 or more clients.

    In the notice, the NFLPA noted that agent fees have not been increased in 14 years and that the increase is necessary to cover costs of agent regulation, including a payment for a “periodic comprehensive background investigation.”

    The money also will be used to provide significant changes to the union website and information provided to agents, the NFLPA said. “When completed by the end of the summer, the website will allow Contract Advisors to run their own salary reports thereby providing more timely and efficient research for Player Contract negotiations,” it said.

    Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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