Non-compete clauses can lead to messy disputes in the sports media world, and it looks like one is beginning between On3 founder Shannon Terry and one of the company’s former employees, Ohio State recruiting writer Jeremy Birmingham.
After leaving Lettermen Row, On3’s Ohio State site, back in June, Birmingham launched a new podcast called THE Podcast, also covering Ohio State. But Terry is now trying to shut that show down by enforcing a non-compete clause in Birmingham’s contract.
On3 has filed a lawsuit against Birmingham alleging that he is violating his employment contract by operating the new podcast and is seeking an injunction against the former employee, according to the Nashville Post.
“On3 invested in Mr. Birmingham’s career,” the lawsuit reads. “By virtue of his employment, Mr. Birmingham had the opportunity to become acquainted with On3 advertisers (and potential advertisers), On3 users and subscribers, and others with whom On3 has had a business relationship. Additionally, Mr. Birmingham’s employment with On3 enabled him to enhance his social media following and visibility. Mr. Birmingham was in a position to garner more name recognition within the general public and generate more followers.”
Despite On3’s claims, Birmingham argues that he is not bound by the non-compete clause because he resigned “with cause.”
Birmingham joined Lettermen Row as a founding member of the staff when the site first launched in 2018. Terry launched On3 last year after previously building and selling both Rivals and 247Sports. Lettermen Row was among On3’s initial additions and was announced before the new network officially launched.
In his resignation email to the company in May, which was included in the court filings, Birmingham said that once the website was acquired by On3, several unexpected changes took place within the company despite promises that everything would remain the same.
“Despite promises and assertions that things ‘weren’t going to change,’ there were a number of very negative things that happened quickly,” Birmingham said in his email. “We’ve been given quotas on stories and message board posts — after being told we would not be given quotas.”
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to prevent Birmingham from operating THE Podcast “or any other internet entertainment and sports-related website relating to Ohio State University” throughout the six-month non-compete period outlined in Birmingham’s contract.
Birmingham, however, maintains that he is not violating a non-compete agreement and intends to settle the matter in court.
“I have not violated any non-competition obligation to On3 Media and, if it persists with this lawsuit, I look forward to having this matter decided by a court of law,” Birmingham said via his attorneys.