Now that the United States Supreme Court has struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection ACT (PASPA), a federal law that (with a few exceptions) prohibited state-authorized sports gambling, several states are lining up to enact legislation that allows sports wagering within their borders.  And why not?  There is huge money in sports betting.  Last year, Nevada raked in nearly $5 billion in sports wagering.  States like New Jersey, New York and others all want a piece of the action. States are not alone in this regard.  Sports leagues, many of which opposed efforts to get rid of PASPA, also have their hands out looking for a quick buck.  Having sensed that they were losing the PASPA battle, the NBA, NFL, MLB and others came up with the ingenious idea that if the Court were to strike PASPA leagues could cash in on the new legal landscape by imposing “integrity fees” on those states that enact new gambling laws. What are integrity fees?  Some say it’s a nice way of saying “extortion.”  The leagues and governing bodies say integrity fees are necessary to maintain the integrity and public confidence in their respective sports.  The rationale goes like this: once […]
St. John’s Law Got Talent
October 20, 2017 – The Fall 2017 St. John’s Law Alumni Magazine features a cover story on SJU alums working in the sports and entertainment industry, and includes comments from Jeff Fannell. You can read the full article here.
October 17, 2017 – Jeff Fannell spoke recently with Global News Canada (Hamilton, Oct. 16) about the collusion grievance filed by free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the National Football League. Kaepernick has remained unsigned this season after his much-publicized protest to bring awareness to police brutality and social injustice in the United States. Listen HERE for Jeff’s take on the grievance and the current state of athlete activism.
Jeff Fannell to Lecture at Adelphi University
Thursday, October 12, 2017 – On Monday, October 16, Jeff Fannell will serve as a guest lecturer at Adelphi University, where he will speak on current developments in sports law. The lecture, coordinated by Professor Josh Liebman, will commence at 8:00 p.m. on the school’s campus in Garden City, NY. “I’m always excited to speak to students and young professionals about the sports industry,” said Jeff. “I’m particularly excited to speak to a class taught by Josh, whom I’ve known for over ten years. We met when I was lawyer at the MLBPA and he was a young intern. It’s gratifying to see how far he has come in his career, both as a professor and commercial litigator.” Monday’s lecture will cover issues relating to negotiating athlete contracts, grievance arbitration and collective bargaining. “We’ll discuss a little Ezekiel Elliott, a little Colin Kaepernick, recent NBA signings and other things,” said Jeff. “It should be fun.”
October 11, 2017 – Jeff Fannell & Associates has signed former Major League Baseball pitcher Joey Devine for representation for off-the-field work. JFA will seek opportunities for Devine in several areas, including youth development and training, collegiate coaching, and television and radio broadcasting. From 2003-2005, Devine was a standout relief pitcher for Division I powerhouse North Carolina State University, where he remains the Wolfpack’s all-time career saves leader with 30.  In 2005, the former All-American was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the MLB draft. Devine went on to play seven years in the Major Leagues, pitching for both the Braves and Oakland Athletics. In 2016, he returned to NC State to complete his studies and to serve as the Undergraduate Assistant Baseball Coach. “It is a privilege to represent Joey,” said JFA President Jeff Fannell. “Not only is he talented, he’s also a first-class individual. We look forward to helping him achieve his career and personal goals.” JFA represents professional athletes, sports agents and coaches, providing contract negotiation, market analysis, grievance handling, sports marketing and other related services. In addition, JFA currently serves as labor relations consultant to the Major League Baseball Players Association.   […]
Jun 20
A Mission of Hope
  Recently, my wife and I were blessed to attend the 2017 A Better Chance Awards Luncheon in New York City.  We were guests of one of the honorees, Tony Clark, the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.  Joining Tony as honorees were Marvin R. Ellison, Chairman and CEO of JCPenney, and David Coleman, President and CEO of The College Board.  Though each of the award recipients was impressive, the work of the organization and the beneficiaries of that work stole the show.   According to its printed and digital materials, the mission of A Better Chance “is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.”  ABC achieves this through its College Preparatory Schools Program, which recruits, refers and supports about 500 student scholars in grades 6-12 at more than 300 member schools in 27 states.  Through ABC, these students gain access to rigorous educational opportunities at some of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the nation.  Since 1963, ABC “has been finding talent in communities where it is often overlooked and placing it in the path of opportunity.”   […]
Scholarship Update
  Back in January, I posted about my desire to create an academic scholarship as a way to express my gratitude for all of the help and the blessings I have received over the course of my studies and my career.  Several people were kind enough to reach out to offer advice and guidance.  Now, less than six months later, I am overjoyed to announce the creation of the Fannell Family Scholarship at my law school alma mater, St. John’s University School of Law in Queens, NY.   Through a pledge of $50,000, combined with a dollar-for-dollar match from the Brennan Family Scholarship Matching Program once the pledge threshold is met, we will have a $100,000 endowed scholarship at St. John’s Law that will provide one or more partial scholarships each year to an African-American student with a demonstrated interest in labor and employment law.  One of the beauties of the endowed scholarship is that once created, the capital is preserved, providing financial assistance to generations of students in perpetuity.   I am thrilled at the opportunity, through the scholarship, to help others as others have helped me.  My sincere thanks to Philip Maroney, Advancement Officer at St. John’s, for […]
Standing with Adam Jones
On April 27, 2017, I had the privilege of attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan.  The museum, which will open in 2019, has been in the works for decades.  In addition to housing baseball memorabilia, the museum will focus on Jackie’s life on and off the field, including his contributions to the civil rights movement. Among my personal highlights at the groundbreaking ceremony was the opportunity to meet Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson, who is known to some as the First Lady of Baseball.  In addition, I had the opportunity to chat with noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who shared how the Dodgers moving out of Brooklyn played a role in stoking his passion for justice and equality.  According to Siegel, the Dodgers helped forged friendships between blacks and whites who shared a common interest in cheering their team on.  When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, many of those bonds were broken, which ultimately led Siegel on a life-long crusade against any barriers that would tend to create racial divides. Thoughts of Jackie, Rachel and Norman returned to the fore as baseball ushered in its second month of the season with the story […]
Recap: WPA Player Development Conference
Over 70 player development professionals and player association executives convened in Paris, France April 3-5 for the World Players Association Player Development Conference.   The theme of the conference was #PeopleFirst – an acknowledgement that players are people first, and athletes second.  Discussion focused on best practices to develop the full potential of players as professionals, people and citizens. Leaders from over two dozen countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Switzerland, England, Botswana, and Zimbabwe shared ideas and experiences in implementing player development programs.  Such programs emphasize areas such as player health and safety, mental health and wellness, training and performance (including the use of wearable technology), career transition programs, personal branding, social awareness and involvement, and leadership development.  In short, the conversation among conference participants embodied a holistic approach to developing players as people and athletes. On behalf of the MLBPA, I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion with Don Davis, NFLPA Senior Director of Player Affairs and Development, and Stephen Webb, NHLPA Divisional Player Representative.  How player development programs are pursued within the context of a collective bargaining agreement and independent of the league and its clubs was a central part […]
April 4, 2017- Paris, France – Jeff Fannell will be speaking at the 2017 World Player Development Conference this Wednesday, April 5th. Along with Don Davis, Senior Director of Player Affairs and Development (NFLPA) and Steve Webb, Divisional Player Representative (NHLPA), Fannell will be featured on the panel discussion focused on case studies of major US sports. Lookout for the full panel and conference experience recap from Jeff later this week at http://fannell.com/blog. The biennial World Player Development Conference is being jointly hosted by EU Athletes and FIFPro in Paris from April 3 – 5, 2017. The conference brings together 80 of the world’s leading player development professionals and player association executives. It is being professionally facilitated by LawInSport CEO and founder Sean Cottrell, a committed advocate of athlete welfare, in an open environment that encourages discussion and the sharing of experience and expertise. The 2017 conference follows World Players’ inaugural World Player Development Conference hosted by the Australian Athletes’ Alliance in Melbourne in March 2015. For more information on the conference visit HERE. ###
  Ryan Lake, President, Beyond the Playbook Among my most enjoyable experiences over the years has been serving as an adjunct professor and mentor to law students and young professionals.  It’s great to see former students and mentees begin and grow into their careers.  And it’s even better when we can stay in touch and continue to foster a positive relationship. Ryan Lake, President of the sports consultancy firm, Beyond the Playbook, earned his LLM in International Sports Law Practice from St. John’s University School of Law in 2013.  As a professor in the LLM program, I had the pleasure of having Ryan in my U.S. Sports Law class.  Recently, I caught up with Ryan to find out how his career is progressing. JF: You completed the LLM program in 2013.  What have you been up to since then? RL:  First, I would like to thank you for being a mentor, your guidance has had a tremendous impact on my career. Since completing the LLM program, I’ve been able to explore a wide array of areas in the sports industry. Immediately following the LLM program, I worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee, where I worked on issues ranging from anti-doping, […]
A Baseball Agent’s Dilemma
The first three weeks of February is salary arbitration season in Major League Baseball.  A time when eligible players and their clubs try to hammer out contracts for the coming year.  If those efforts fail, the matter is presented to a panel of labor arbitrators who will decide the issue after hearing arguments from the player, club, the union and the Commissioner’s Office. Clubs hold the historical edge in salary arbitration hearings.  According to the MLBPA website, through 2012, arbitrators have ruled for clubs in 286 cases and for players in 214.  This is generally reflective of labor arbitration, where employers win more than they lose.  More than one cynic has suggested that such is way arbitrators ensure they continue to get cases.  For the record, I’ll only say that I find this observation curiously fascinating.  After I retire or move on from handling arbitration cases, chances are I may have other thoughts, but for now I simply remain fascinated. Another facet of baseball’s salary arbitration process that has captured my attention is the particular dilemma that agents face that affects the outcome of many negotiations.  First, consider that the process is designed to foster settlements by creating risk – […]
Looking to lend a hand
We all are products of our experiences and how we choose to navigate them. In my case, dropping out of college is one of several indelible marks on my soul. I was one of those “most likely to succeed” cats coming out of high school, so dropping out of college a few months later was an unexpected re-write. Remaining a college drop-out for the next eight years was humbling and sometimes disorienting, as I watched former high school classmates repeatedly lap me on the career track. When I got an opportunity to go back to college, thanks to the intervention of a dear family friend, I made the most of it and graduated with honors. When that same family friend encouraged me to apply to law school, I turned a deaf ear. With a wife and two children to care for, I needed to get out of the classroom and into the job market – or so I thought. After a year of rejections and disappointments, I bit the bullet, took the LSAT and applied to law school. By now, we had three children, so the family demands were increasing. I applied to only one law school – St. John’s Law in Queens, NY. It was the […]
It’s gotta be the views!
In a commercial spot for Nike in the late ‘80s, Spike Lee, in character as Mars Blackmon, wanted to know what made Michael Jordan so great.  Mars wanted to know if it was Mike’s shorts, his socks, his shoes, or his haircut.  Each time, Mike calmly replied, “No, Mars.”  At the end of the commercial, Mars was not buying it, yelling, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” I was reminded of that commercial as I watched the video of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live broadcast.  Brown, the star wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, decided it would be a good idea to live stream the Steelers’ locker-room celebration following their playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.  During the live recording, Brown captured some unflattering comments by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin that were directed at the New England Patriots, the Steelers’ next playoff opponent.  A lot has been made of Tomlin’s comments, but that’s not the real issue. The bigger issues center on Brown’s judgment and motivation. Let’s take the easy one first: Brown didn’t exercise poor judgment, he exercised no judgment.  No way (I hope) was his live broadcast the result of any kind of deliberate consideration.  The second issue […]