Don't think this has been posted yet -- the Wall Street Journal has an interesting interview w/Jeff Klein of Weil Gotshal & Manges, who represented Harbaugh in the negotiations w/UM. He specializes in handling thorny matters for sports figures (the article offers the example of Joe Torre leaving the Yankees for the Dodgers.)
It'll be interesting to eventually hear all the details of how JH to Michigan came about, but based on this interview and what we heard yesterday, a few things are becoming clear:
- Harbaugh's agent, David Dunn, was essentially out of the loop on this -- which makes it likely he was the one leaking the (incorrect) contract numbers and pushing the "Jim wants to stay in the NFL" stuff to NFL reporters
- JH had decided a while ago that he wanted the Michigan job, and it was Klein's job (and his pal John Denniston's, apparently, as well) to handle all the negotiations w/UM so he could stay focused on finishing things out w/the 49ers' season.
To the matter at hand. How did you land Jim Harbaugh as a client?
The short answer: I have no idea. Often, you know how you land a client — who refers you. But not here. I was cold-called by an associate of his. I met that person and then met Jim.
I take it the representation began this fall?
It did. I don’t really want to be more specific than that.
Interpret "this fall" as you will. Sounds to me like JH got the ball rolling through Klein w/Michigan and Hackett a while ago, probably as soon as Hackett was named interim AD.
The whole deal — from leaving the 49ers to joining Michigan — seemed to happen quickly and, at least from the outside, smoothly. What sorts of things did you have to accomplish to get the deal done?
I’m wary about saying too much and stepping into privileged and confidential material. But what I will say is that I focused, as I always try to, on three important touchstones: confidentiality, a strategic sequencing of events, and the client’s desire.
Jim was about to essentially become a free agent. Some free agents like a lot of publicity. But from my perspective, that’s putting ego ahead of outcome. There was no publicity here. I prefer to do my job below the radar screen and like to make deals in the boardroom and not the back pages [of the newspaper]. If you look at how Jim conducts himself, he’s the same way. So from that perspective, I think we were a good fit. In many ways, he was a dream client.
But it was important to get this done discreetly and with no publicity. Jim needed and wanted to stay focused on coaching the 49ers up through the final game [on Sunday]. If you watched how he coached that game and the way the team played for him up until the very last whistle and the very last play, you can tell where his mind was and where his dedication was. My job was to help him be able to keep that focus.
He left his last position in the manner he wanted to. He was the coach of the 49ers until the very end.
The backroom-detail story of how Jim came home to Michigan will make for a fascinating article/book someday....
Per the ESPN story linked above, there's another lawsuit heading to challenge the NCAA's current "salary cap" of scholarships and prohibition of almost any other sources of income.
The move comes on the heels of a similar, if less aggressive, claim filed earlier this month by a Seattle firm on behalf of former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston. In that suit, which does not include current players, the same defendants that Kessler's group is targeting were asked to pay damages for the difference in the value of an athletic scholarship and the full cost of attendance -- an amount equivalent to several thousand dollars annually. By contrast, the Kessler suit dispenses with the cost-of-attendance argument and does not ask for damages as a group. It simply states that no cap is legal in a free market, and asks the judge to issue an injunction against the NCAA ending the practice. It contends that NCAA member universities are acting as a "cartel" by fixing the prices paid for athletes, who presumably would receive offers well in excess of tuition, room, board and books if not restricted by NCAA rules.
Kessler is most famous for his work against leagues for players. He's
"a litigator with a history of victories against sports leagues reaching to the 1970s. Kessler helped bring free agency to the NFL, winning a key jury verdict for the NFL Players Association in 1992. He remains outside counsel to the NFLPA and the NBA's player union, has taken on Major League Baseball, and represented star athletes including Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. For municipal authorities, he forced the Raiders to honor their stadium lease and stay in Oakland."
Should be interesting to see where this goes...
As you may have heard, the licensing agent of Big Ten video (who deleted mgoblog's YouTube account) is in my base deleting my videoz and sending letters to Michigan Stadium. Someone on our board posted:
Knew this day was coming as soon as I saw this site linked from Mlive. We fly under the radar no more.
For now, I'm hosting every snap directly from mgovideo and still trying to find the sweet spot of video quality/playability. These are 480p:
We ain't goin' out like that.