Introduction

I crouched in the closet in my daughter’s bedroom on Easter weekend 2007. It’s not exactly where most sports agents do their deals, but that is where I found myself trying to negotiate to keep a big client, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo.

Tom and I are good friends today, but in that moment you would not have known it. News travels like lightning in the small universe of college basketball’s elite coaches, and his future and our relationship were on the line.

What unfolded that week of the NCAA Final Four, the pinnacle of Tom’s sport, was a chess match. Anything can happen in high-stakes negotiation, and no matter what you’re negotiating, no doubt the stakes are high to you.

Izzo is a brilliant college basketball coach, ...

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