Don Fehr Rumors
National Basketball Players Association officials met with NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr and MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner last month as part of their effort to find a new head for the players union. “The process has started, and for anyone to think we are not moving forward is inaccurate,” said Jerry Stackhouse, a member of the NBPA executive committee. But Stackhouse added that players are in “no rush” to replace the former executive director, Billy Hunter. Responding to reported frustration over the pace of the selection process, Stackhouse said leaders want to take their time in rebuilding the union and involve players. “A union is, and what it should be, is for the players, and that hasn’t happened in recent times,” he said. NBPA leaders voted unanimously to fire Hunter on Feb. 16, after an independent investigation found that he had acted in his own interests and against players’ interest in running the union.
Stackhouse and Ron Klempner, who is the NBPA’s deputy general counsel and who has been acting executive director since Hunter was fired, attended a meeting with Fehr and Weiner at the MLBPA headquarters in Manhattan in April. In addition to Fehr and Weiner, Tony Clark, a former MLB first baseman who is now MLBPA director of player relations, and Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenseman who is now the NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, also attended the meeting. Both Fehr and Weiner confirmed that the meeting occurred but declined further comment. Fehr’s name has been mentioned as a potential successor to Hunter, but he reaffirmed last week that he intends to stay at the NHLPA. Stackhouse said he was seeking information on how unions are run, as well as the processes unions have used to elect an executive director. News of the meeting comes as some NBA agents have privately been grumbling that nothing was happening in the search for a new union leader. Stackhouse, who is represented by Excel Sports Management founder Jeff Schwartz, said that was not the case.
As NBA players prepare to make a decision on union chief Billy Hunter’s future at All-Star weekend in Houston in less than two weeks, several influential agents already are privately discussing a possible successor: longtime sports union leader Don Fehr. Fehr, currently the executive director of the NHL Players Association, is the early preferred pick among multiple agents with enough clout to sway a significant portion of union membership, CBSSports.com has learned.
But Fehr’s firebrand leadership — and his successful challenge of collusion among baseball owners in the 1980s — is precisely what a small but powerful group of hawkish agents is seeking in a new leader to engage NBA commissioner-elect Adam Silver in the next round of collective bargaining. Each side can opt out of the current CBA — ratified after a 149-day lockout in 2011 — on July 1, 2017. “He’s the guy,” one of the influential agents said. “He is somebody who would be formidable,” another agent said. “He would go tooth-and-nail on everything.”