As we talked about in one of our posts last fall, employment contracts can be terminated “with cause” (neglect of duties, violation of NFL, NCAA, conference, university rules, etc.) or “without cause” (primarily not winning enough games). The main difference between the two is that if the Coach is terminated “with cause” the employer doesn’t owe the Coach anything for the remainder of the term of the contract but if the Coach is terminated “without cause” the employer, unless it is a really bad contract, has to continue to pay Coach some amount for some period of time.
Another provision that I am always concerned with is a “reassignment” clause that will be worded something like this:
At the discretion of the Athletics Director the University retains the right to reassign Coach to other positions with other duties during the term of this Agreement. In no event, however, will Coach be assigned to any position which is not consistent with Coach’s education and experience. If Coach refuses to accept such reassignment the University may terminate Coach “with cause”.
This provision means the Coach can be moved off the field as a coach and “reassigned” to, for example, a position in the university’s athletic foundation where he’ll spend the day calling alumni asking for donations to the athletics department. If the Coach agrees to the reassignment the university will continue to pay the Coach what he is owed under his contract. If, however, the Coach wants to continue to coach and refuses to accept the “reassignment” and takes a coaching position with another program, the university can terminate the Coach “with cause” and will not owe the Coach anything.
I don’t like “reassignment” clauses so we always try and get them removed from the contracts. But as is the case in negotiating contracts, whether they will make the changes usually boils down to how much leverage do we have and/or how hard are we willing to push. Whatever happens, it is important that you understand what the clause means and the impact it can have on you.
If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396) or you can email him at email@example.com.