Last week the NFLPA’s Search Committee, comprised of six members of the union’s Executive Committee, trimmed their list of potential candidates for the Executive Director position to five. The list of candidates was reduced a week after the Department of Labor received a letter from four congressmen asking if they would monitor the NFLPA’s process for finding a new Executive Director. A copy of the letter from Congressman Edolphus Towns, Gregory Meeks, Bobby Rush, and G.K. Butterfield was also sent to NFLPA Interim Executive Director Richard Berthelsen and union President Kevin Mawae. The four congressmen requested that a “detailed disclosure and description report” be provided to them and the Department of Labor.
The letter from the congressmen also stated:
“We would like to ensure the integrity of the search process and that the process is transparent, fair and compliant with all applicable Department of Labor rules and regulations, and the NFLPA Constitution rules and by-laws,”
In response NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, who is himself a member of the search committee, said:
“While we respect the Congressmen’s right to ask about the process, I do not see how the transparency or legality of our search can be seriously questioned. We have told our members from the beginning that it is a free and open process, and that they are all free to suggest candidates to the Search Committee or the search firm. The members of our committee have been very conscientious about their roles, and they have worked very hard to do things the right way.”
The election process for a new Executive director is spelled out clearly in the NFLPA Constitution. In November of 2008, the NFLPA President told The Associated Press that the selection procedure was still up in the air.
Mawae said the union has yet to determine whether the new executive director will be selected by a vote of the NFLPA’s 32 team player representatives or whether the search committee will make the decision on its own.
“There’s pros and cons to doing it either way,” Mawae said. “The last thing we want to do is do it in a way that’s going to cause us to pick the wrong person and have to do this process again in a couple of years.”
Here is what the NFLPA Constitution says about the selection process:
First, Article 4.01(b) states that the Executive Director is an administrative officer.
4.01(b) The principal administrative officer of the NFLPA shall be its Executive Director. The Executive Director shall be elected at the annual meeting of the Board of Player Representatives for a term of three (3) years and until his successor shall be duly qualified and elected. Written notification of the election of the Executive Director shall be sent to the Board of Player Representatives prior to the meeting in which the election is to take place. The Executive Committee shall negotiate his employment contract.
The Constitution then states that administrative officers are elected by the Board of Representatives.
4.02 The executive and administrative officers shall be elected by members of the Board of Representatives. Except as provided in Section 5.06, the incumbent President shall be without a vote.
The Board of Representatives is made of up the NFLPA President, the 32 Player Reps as elected by their respective teammates, and the current Executive Director.
5.01 The Board of Representatives shall consist of the President, one Player Representative from each club, and the Executive Director serving ex officio.
The NFLPA Constitution states to be eligible for election an Executive Director candidate must be endorsed by three members of the Board of Representatives at least ten days in advance of the election.
4.04 In order to be eligible for election as Executive Director, a candidate shall be required to have the written endorsement of no less than three (3) members of the Board of Representatives which shall be delivered to the President at least ten (10) days in advance of any election. A candidate for the office of Executive Director need not be a member in good standing of the NFLPA.
Lastly, the Constitution states that each player representative will have one vote for each dues paying member of the NFL team he represents.
5.06 Each member of the Board shall, in transacting the business of the Association, have one (1) vote for each current dues paying member from his team. The President shall have a vote only for purposes of breaking a tie vote of the Board of Representatives in matters other than officers’ elections.
The process laid out in the NFLPA Constitution is clear cut. It does not sound like the procedure has been followed. The list of candidates has been reduced to five by a search committee. What would happen if more candidates emerged with the endorsement of three members of the Board of Representatives?
With the NFLPA Executive Director position commanding a salary of over $6 million annually and the ability of the incoming Executive Director to bring in his own staff it is easy to see why people may be trying to exert their influence over the selection process. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement to be negotiated and $8 billion in annual NFL revenue on the line the influence may come from people within NFL management as well.
To view a copy of the NFLPA Constitution in its entirety you can click HERE.