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date: 13 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the legal authority of professional sports league commissioners to govern owners of teams. Commissioners and owners are motivated by often complementary, but occasionally disparate, sets of incentives. When friction between a commissioner and owner surfaces, key contractual covenants establish the relevant duties and responsibilities for dispute resolution. Whether, and to what degree, a commissioner and owner invoke those covenants is not always predictable or seemingly logical. To illustrate, this chapter details the turbulent yet lengthy tenure of Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. By analyzing the Donald Sterling saga, this chapter reveals the legal boundaries and contextual dimensions of commissioner authority over team owners.

Keywords: league constitution, collective bargaining agreement, waiver of recourse, arbitration, professional sports league, franchise relocation, breach of contract

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