Lawyers' thoughts on Donovan
There may be some legal Xs and Os at work as Billy Donovan’s basketball future unfolds.
Howard Wasserman, associate professor of law at Florida International University, says Donovan could be required to pay a penalty to get out of his Orlando Magic contract and return to Florida.
“It’s probably written into the contract that he could get out of the deal to go coach another team,’’ said Wasserman, a contributor to Sports Law Blog. “But he would be responsible for paying some amount of money to Orlando for letting him out of the deal. These show up in coaches contracts all the time, both professional coaches and in particular college coaches. If the coach is going to leave the deal early, then he has to pay this much of a penalty. Usually what happens...is the school will pick up that penalty. And that penalties kick in as soon as the contract is signed.
“Now given how quickly this all occurred, it might be that Orlando just won’t bother to enforce the penalty. They could say, it’s only been a day or two, we’ll let the whole thing go. But I’d be almost certain that there’s some clause in the contract that would require Donovan to pay some amount of money for getting out of the contract.’’
Rick Karcher, assistant professor of law Florida Coastal School of Law and Director of the Center for Law and Sports, has a similar take.
“Strictly from a legal standpoint, all these coaches’ contracts have these liquidated damages provision,’’ said Karcher, also a contributor to Sports Law Blog.
“If there is in the Orlando contract, which there probably is, the question is what would be the formula for the amount that gets paid — because he would technically be breaching (the contract). They could enforce that but what usually happens is that the coach isn’t the one who pays the liquidated damages provision. It’s the new team as part of the buyout.’’
“What I find kind of interesting here is what would the Florida contract say on the liquidated damages provision for Donovan? In other words, if they both have liquidated damages provisions, then maybe it ends up being a wash. But even then, it wouldn’t be a complete wash, because the formulas would be different, based upon the salaries of each contract.
“But out of the legal realm, I really think this won’t be answered by the legal aspect of it. I really think you have a situation where Orlando is trying to convince Donovan that this is a good thing to stay with Orlando. But the bottom line is, if Donovan doesn’t want to be there, then the Magic doesn’t want him to be there, either.’’
-- Dave Scheiber, Times Staff Writer