Andrew Brandt Optimistic About NBA Season

Andrew Brandt (courtesy ESPN)

When it comes to sports law and business, there may be no bigger name than Andrew Brandt.  You most likely know him from his work with ESPN as an NFL business analyst. Brandt provided ESPN and its viewers with an insider’s view of the labor negotiations and subsequent collective bargaining agreement. Prior to joining ESPN, Brandt was the vice president of the Green Bay Packers where he managed the team’s contracts and salary cap. Currently, Brandt teaches for the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

This week, Brandt spoke at Temple University Law School about his career path and several emerging issues in sports law.  The Legal Blitz caught up with him afterwards for this interview.

How optimistic are you the the NBA will have a season at all this year?

I have always been optimistic about a season, albeit shortened by a month or two. The risks are too great for each side to not play.

A lot of NBA owners also owned NFL teams during the hockey lockout. How do you think this will impact the negotiating strategy from the owners side?

I think they have noted that the long labor dispute there created a system that may ensure profitability. I also think it would be hard to advocate a year-long shutdown in a business that reached the height of popularity at the end of last season.

If you were an arbiter working with the NBA owners and players, what do you think would be a fair solution to the revenue sharing and salary cap disputes?

They are interrelated: an even split like 50/50 would not have a true “hard cap” as the owners want.   A better split for the players — they want 52.5 — would mean a harder cap for the owners.

What lessons should the NBA have learned from the NFL lockout?

Obviously, the NBPA decided not to follow the path of decertification and litigation. We’ll see how it plays out. The NBA should have learned how emotional and raw negotiations directly with players can be.

NBA and NFL players were both involved in their respective CBA negotiations. How has the players’ role in NBA been different than the NFL and why is that significant?

More high net worth players are involved in direct negotiations than were in the NFL talks. They can obviously withstand losing money easier than the rank and file. We will see how long their unity and strength holds.

What are the legal obstacles the NFL faces in trying to implement an HGH program?

It appears to be a bargaining issue. The NFL and NFLPA agreed on testing but the union is holding up implementation of testing due to a dispute on the type of testing. It has reportedly asked for more information and we continue to wait. Meanwhile, Congress has stepped in to try to move the process forward.

The NFL suspended Terrelle Pryor and said they would have suspended Jim Tressell if the Colts hadn’t. Do you think NFL sanctions for NCAA infractions will become an official policy? Is that wise?

I think the NFL will distinguish Pryor in terms of an agreement worked out for him to enter the Supplemental Draft and allowed entry into the NFL. Otherwise, there will be precedent for pre-employment discipline, which could be hard to enforce on a broad basis.

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