College football is big money. Not surprisingly, football programs that pay millions of dollars to their coaches would like to keep them from moving to other schools. For instance, Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has a contract that prevents him from going to another school within the Southeastern Conference’s western division. But, programs also want to tie down assistant coaches.
Programs on the rise or established programs generally have a bevy of up and coming assistant coaches. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is a star coordinator. Head Coach Mack Brown anointed Muschamp his eventual successor. Of course Mack has not told anyone when he plans to step down.
Muschamp is a University of Georgia graduate and former player. Georgia coach Mark Richt has had a terrible season. Rumors are abound that Georgia may target Muschamp as a replacement.
Could Texas craft a non-compete agreement that would prevent Muschamp from leaving? Probably not. To begin with, Texas would have to draft a clause that prevents Muschamp from going to Georgia. Would that be reasonable in scope? Keeping a coach from going to work for a conference competitor is one thing, but preventing him going to a school Texas rarely plays is another.
The bigger question is could a non-compete be crafted under Texas law for a football coach that is ancillary to an otherwise enforceable agreement? Non-competes are typically used to protect trade secrets and other proprietary information. There aren’t really any secrets when it comes to coaching. As a result, it would seem unlikely that a court would find an interest worth protecting vis-à-vis a non-compete.
So it seems unlikely that Texas could enforce a non-compete against Muschamp. But, other states have more relaxed non-compete laws that might permit the enforcement of such a provision. Especially, if the Judge happens to be an alum from that particular school – just kidding.