Gregg Clifton Joins New York Law School Sports Arbitration Panel

New York, N.Y. (April 28, 2023) – Phoenix Partner & Chair of Lewis Brisbois' Collegiate & Professional Sports Law Practice Gregg E. Clifton joined a panel on sports arbitration issues, hosted by New York Law School (NYLS) on March 28.   

Moderated by NYLS student Benjamin Kaner, this informative CLE session provided attendees with key insights on the history of baseball arbitration, and dispute resolution methods for determining player compensation in MLB and the NFL. Mr. Clifton was joined by Mark Conrad, Associate Professor of Law and Ethics at Fordham University, and Jimmy McEntee, Associate at Hogan-Lovells. 

Mr. Clifton, who has presented arbitration cases for both on behalf of individual players and team management, highlighted the uniqueness of the salary arbitration process in the MLB, where each side has one hour to present a case.  

“It’s a very intimidating process if you’re not used to it,” said Mr. Clifton on these arbitration hearings. “Some of the players don’t think there should be any negativity discussed whatsoever. If a player goes into an arbitration hearing expecting that, they are going to be disappointed because it’s management’s job to talk about negative performances.” 

During the conversation, Mr. Clifton also addressed the critical role that agents play during arbitration, and how they need to work closely with players to make decisions for the best long-term financial outcomes possible.  

“From an agent’s perspective, success is crucial and maintaining that relationship with your player. If you lose, every agent in America is going to be all over your player, trying to convince them to switch to a different agency.”  

This panel also delved into the NFL collective bargaining agreement, disciplinary actions for players, and key differences in the power balance between the two leagues in terms of what players and management are looking for.  

“There have been multiple collective bargaining negotiations, and nothing has really changed or impacted Commissioner Goodell’s power," said Mr. Clifton “The players can always make some trades, but they haven’t prioritized that – I’ve heard certain people say it’s because cause only a handful of players are impacted by it.” 

In addition to leading the firm's Collegiate & Professional Sports Law Practice, Mr. Clifton is a member of Lewis Brisbois' Entertainment, Media & Sports and Labor & Employment Practices. He has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world and has advised numerous professional franchises on a range of labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. Recently, Mr. Clifton was a guest host on Lewis Brisbois’ Periscope podcast, for an episode on the boom of NIL (name, image and likeness) financial deals, and the future of the NCAA as a governing body in the evolving world of sports. 

You can watch a full recording of this panel here.  

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