Specialized Investigative Services in Professional Sports
IGI is well versed in investigative issues arising from the unique demands, rules, risks and challenges inherent to professional sports. Our clients have included leagues and tournaments, teams and team owners, and individual players and athletes, who compete in football, baseball, basketball, tennis, boxing – even auto racing. We also work for companies engaged in the business of sports – sponsors, sports equipment manufacturers, and others.
Our services for clients in this arena range from due diligence and internal investigations, to litigation support, reputation management and regulatory intelligence. In-depth due diligence of prospective team owners or investors is a mainstay of this practice area, while other cases have involved disputes in franchise expansion, stadium deal-making and product licensing, as well as alleged player misconduct, banned performance-enhancing substances, sports betting and ticket scalping.
As in all our engagements, our professional sports clients benefit from IGI’s interdisciplinary approach, in which we staff cases with experienced investigators, attorneys, forensic accountants and computer forensics experts, supervised by former federal prosecutors.
- For attorneys representing a major professional sports league, IGI conducted extensive due diligence on a partnership of two potential franchise owners to determine whether the prospective team owners met certain thresholds for franchise ownership. Information that IGI obtained helped the league to determine that one of the prospective team owners did not meet league-stipulated financial criteria. The deal proceeded once the investor was asked to withdraw from the franchise bid.
- IGI was retained by a law firm representing the NFL to conduct detailed background due diligence on a leading prospective owner, a high net-worth individual, of a professional football team. Our assignment included uncovering red flags and potential liabilities related to the candidate’s personal and professional reputation, financial profile and other potential risks. Our investigation included analyzing substantial material related to the candidate’s lengthy career, which included complex financial transactions, and discreet interviews of individuals who had been involved in business arrangements with the candidate. The results of our interviews yielded unique and relevant perspective on the candidate’s reputation and record.
- On behalf of an incumbent team owner, IGI conducted a due diligence investigation of a prospective new owner of a Major League Baseball team. IGI was retained to investigate the background and qualifications of the prospective buyer as well as his suitability to own the team.
- The NFL hired IGI to conduct detailed background inquiries of prospective purchasers of the Washington Redskins and its stadium (We typically do not identify clients or the focus of our investigations. In this case, the client publicly disclosed the engagement). IGI examined the financial and reputational backgrounds of three individuals, and developed an accurate assessment of the candidates’ financial means and assets.
- IGI worked on behalf of a Major League Baseball team owner on the West Coast involved in litigation brought by an international labor union regarding rights to the team stadium. The outcome of the litigation had resulted in a substantial judgment against our client. IGI identified, located and interviewed members of the jury who entered the unfavorable settlement against our client to determine whether the jurors may have been improperly influenced.
- IGI provided litigation support to a New York law firm, working on behalf of the NFL, by developing information on the financial condition and background of an individual closely-affiliated with a team owner. Our investigation uncovered significant information related to the individual’s financial profile, including evidence that he had defaulted on a significant transaction and did not possess sufficient liquid assets to satisfy the court’s judgment.
- Led by seasoned litigators, IGI has extensive experience supporting clients in the sports industry in significant litigation and arbitration disputes. For example, IGI has been retained for litigation support by the owner of a Major League Baseball team; a sporting and music entertainment presenter; and a high-profile professional boxer.
- IGI has developed strong capabilities in combating the theft of intellectual property and the illegal sale of clothing bearing counterfeit logos and trademarks. IGI investigated the theft of intellectual property from a sports franchise by another company. And current IGI personnel have led successful investigations into the mass production and sale of counterfeit clothing, including a criminal case against perpetrators replicating Nike shoes.
- Working for the owner of a professional football team, IGI obtained and analyzed information and documents related to a college football coach’s recruitment of staff for a professional expansion team in another state.