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Gervon Dexter’s Lawsuit Against Big League Advance Could Set Precedent of Protection Over Speculative Investments in Young Athletes


Photo Credit: Rob Royce DSC_0005, Flickr (Oct. 22, 2010) (PDM 1.0 Deed).

By Stuart Moore*                                                                                 Posted: 11/8/2023

A recent suit filed in the Northern District of Florida has prompted questions regarding the treatment of young athletes and their financial futures.[1]  Chicago Bears rookie Gervon Dexter brought the complaint in September against Big League Advance (“BLA”), seeking to void a contract the defensive tackle entered as a junior at the University of Florida.[2]  The deal would require Dexter to give up fifteen percent of his pre-tax salary earned in the NFL for twenty-five years in exchange for a single payment of around $436,485.[3]  Dexter’s story, however, is only one example in an emerging practice of speculative capital investment in athlete’s careers.[4]

The Story Behind Big League Advance

The idea behind BLA, thought up by former MLB pitcher Michael Schwimer who founded the company in 2016, was this: find baseball players early in their career who are underrated or underrepresented and offer them cash upfront in exchange for future professional earnings on a pro-rata basis.[5]  BLA found immediate success, now infamously signing a deal with star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who agreed to give the firm around eight percent of his earnings in exchange for cash in 2017.[6]  This meant that when Tatis signed a $340 million extension with the San Diego Padres in 2021, he owed BLA $27 million.[7]  Tatis is just one of hundreds of athletes to have signed with the company, a portfolio that includes MLB stars Elly De La Cruz and Jazz Chisholm.[8]  Now, Dexter represents a recent push by BLA to enter the realm of college athletics in the era of NIL.[9]


With the potential for enormous costs to athletes, like in Tatis’ case, it is unsurprising that BLA has faced scrutiny over its business practices.[10]  Baseball’s biggest agent, Scott Boras, has been a vocal critic of the company.[11]  In Boras’ opinion, BLA seeks out “indigent and talented players” and sells them on “usurious” deals that only benefit the company.[12]  Another agent, speaking anonymously, called BLA’s tactics “predatory.”[13]  A memo penned by MLB Player’s Association General Counsel, David Poutry, in 2016 also categorically disapproved of BLA’s products.[14]

This is not the first time BLA has faced legal action either. In 2018, then Cleveland Indian, Francisco Mejía, filed suit against BLA, arguing that the contracts the parties entered were unconscionable.[15]  Mejía alleged that the contract was unconscionable for several reasons, including allegations that BLA obfuscated the terms of the deal by failing to have an interpreter on hand when he entered one of the contracts, and that BLA forced Mejía to pay part of the sum under duress by sending collections agents to his home.[16]  Mejía, however, dropped this suit months after filing and issued an apology to BLA, stating that they never deceived him when negotiating the deals.[17]


The Dexter Suit

What does this mean for Gervon Dexter’s challenge to BLA’s practices?[18]  Dexter’s case is distinct from Mejía’s on one very key issue: because Dexter signed with BLA when he was a player at the University of Florida, the agreement was a name, image, and likeness deal.[19]  Dexter’s agreement was divided into two terms: the “initial term” which existed from when Dexter entered into the contract through the end of his collegiate eligibility, and the “extended term” which expires twenty-five years after the end of his eligibility.[20]  At the time the parties entered into the contract, Florida’s NIL statute included a provision prohibiting NIL compensation to “extend beyond her or his participation in an athletic program at a postsecondary institution.”[21]  The contract looks and acts very much like an NIL deal, stating:

“[i]n consideration for [Dexter’s] NIL services and other obligations described herein, including, if applicable the Extended Term, [Defendant] shall pay [Dexter] [the Fee].”[22]

We now have an issue of contract interpretation.[23]  The extended term, where Dexter must pay a portion of his professional salary, does not on its face include NIL services but instead is focused on an athlete’s performance in their post-collegiate careers.[24]  Effectively, the contract acts like two agreements, one where BLA pays the sum to Dexter in exchange for his NIL and other being consistent with BLA’s traditional speculative business model.[25]  Dexter’s case will likely turn on a question of representation: Did BLA sell this agreement to Dexter as a pure NIL deal, and therefore be subject to scrutiny under Florida’s NIL statute, or did they adequately separate the extended term provision from any NIL services?[26]  In either case, Dexter must first clear one other legal hurdle, as BLA has answered his complaint with a motion to compel arbitration.[27]  Because there is a lack of precedent on this issue, Gervon Dexter’s case, depending on the outcome, might serve as either a warning to athletes in the future or a win for the protection of young athletes chasing their dreams.[28]

*Staff Writer, Jeffrey S. Moorad Sports Law Journal, J.D. Candidate, May 2025, Villanova Charles Widger School of Law.


[1] See Cameron Baker & Leon Rogers, NIL Lawsuit Serves as Cautionary Tale for College Athletes, JD Supra (Sept. 13, 2023), (stating Dexter’s case will serve as example to other young athletes seeking NIL compensation deals).

[2] See generally Complaint for Declaratory Judgement, Dexter v. Big League Advance Fund II LP, (N.D. Fla. Sept. 01, 2023) (Case No. 1:23-cv-00228) (alleging violation of Florida NIL Statute and seeking declaratory judgement to void agreement between Dexter and BLA).

[3] See Mike Florio, Bears DT Gervon Dexter Sues Big League Advance Fund Over NIL Deal, NBC Sports (Sept. 11, 2023, 11:41 AM), (reporting details of Dexter’s agreement with BLA and his rookie contract with Chicago Bears resulting in  $6.72 million deal for Dexter, of which $1 million will go to BLA).

[4] See Dennis Dodd, Some Premier College Athletes Face Option to Exchange NIL Riches For Portion of Future Earnings, CBS Sports (Aug. 1, 2022, 11:45 AM), (reporting significant size of BLA’s portfolio, which includes NFL first-round draft pick Nolan Smith after BLA’s recent expansion into college football).

[5] See Ronald Blum, Moneyball: Tatis Took Cash as Prospect, Owes Part of Fortune, Assoc. Press (Feb. 23, 2021, 5:47 PM), (providing background on BLA and story of company’s founder Michael Schwimer, former minor leaguer who wanted to provide young baseball players with financial backing when pursuing their dreams).

[6] See id. (reporting terms of deal between BLA and Tatis who used money to purchase food).

[7] See Adam Wells, Fernando Tatis Jr. Owes Investment Fund Estimated $27.2M After Padres Contract, Bleacher Rep. (Feb. 19, 2021), (reporting on large sum of money Tatis owed BLA upon signing extension).

[8] See Athletes, Big League Advantage, (last visited Oct. 22, 2023) (listing athletes that have signed agreements with BLA including major leaguers Oswaldo Cabrera, Yermin Mercedes, and Albert Abreu).

[9] See Dodd, supra note 4 (reporting BLA’s expansion from signing mostly minor league baseball players, to college football athletes, thanks in part to emergence of NIL).

[10] See Dave Hannigan, Big League Advance is a Major League Scam Targeting the Prodigious and Vulnerable, Irish Times (July 21, 2021, 6:00 AM), (arguing BLA’s business model targets talented athletes in vulnerable financial positions, specifically focusing on players from Latin America and Minor Leagues).

[11] See Blum, supra note 5. (outlining Boras’ plan for MLBPA giving greater power to regulate companies like BLA).

[12] See id. (reporting MLB agent Scott Boras’ dissatisfaction with Big League Advance’s business practice of offering loans to young athletes when they are in vulnerable financial positions).

[13] See Ken Rosenthal, Rosenthal: Company That Offers Minor Leaguers Up-Front Payments Drawing Scrutiny Within Baseball, Athletic (Apr. 20, 2018), (reporting anonymous agent interviews seeking MLB intervention to regulate businesses like BLA).

[14] See id. (reporting MLBPA’s response to agent inquiries).  Despite calls from agents to regulate BLA’s practices, the MLBPA is most likely not in a position to regulate BLA because the MLBPA has the authority to regulate licensed player agents, a power derived from the union’s exclusive bargaining rights with regard to player contracts, however, as BLA does not have the same bargaining rights, the union may not be able to exercise control over the company.  See Blum, supra note 5 (explaining MLBPA’s tenuous position regarding ability to regulate BLA and stating that union has not exercised such authority over companies like BLA in past).

[15]See id. (reporting Francisco Mejía’s suit and stating it allowed first look into specific contract language of agreements between athlete and BLA).

[16] See Complaint at 4, Francisco Mejia v. Big League Advance Fund I, (D. Del. Feb. 21 2018) (Case No. 1:18-cv-00296-UNA) (seeking to void contract between Mejía and BLA citing unfair business practices).

[17] See Jerry Crasnick, Padres Catcher Francisco Mejia Drops Lawsuit Over Earnings Cut, ESPN (Aug. 30, 2018, 11:37 AM), (reporting Mejía’s decision to drop suit and quoting apology letter written by Mejía).

[18] For further discussion of Dexter’s legal arguments and implications of his deal with BLA, see infra notes 19-28 and accompanying text.

[19] See Mark Schlabach, Florida Legislator Says Bears DT Gervon Dexter's NIL Deal Violated Law, ESPN (Sept. 5, 2023, 6:39 PM), (highlighting Dexter’s story gaining traction with legislator who introduced Florida’s NIL bill, which became law).

[20] See Complaint for Declaratory Judgement supra note 2, at 10 (detailing structure of Dexter’s contract laying groundwork for legal argument that agreement constituted violation of Florida’s NIL statute and therefore should be voided).

[21] See Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation and Rights, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 1006.74 (West 2021) (indicating initial intent of Florida legislature was to only allow NIL compensation while athletes hold collegiate eligibility).  Florida recently removed this provision, but because Dexter’s contract was entered while this provision was still good law, it continues to govern his agreement.  See Andrea Adelson, Florida Updates NIL Legislation to Remove Legal Restrictions, ESPN (Feb. 16, 2023, 12:11 PM), (reporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed bill removing legal restrictions put in place by initial state NIL bill).

[22] See Complaint for Declaratory Judgment supra note 2, at 9 (quoting key provision in Dexter’s deal with BLA) (emphasis added).

[23] See Florio, supra note 3 (arguing extended term provision clearly represents speculative investment outside scope of NIL contract).

[24] See Complaint for Declaratory Judgment supra note 2,  at 12 (arguing that because extended term provision is triggered by Dexter’s post collegiate performance, it by plain terms violates Florida’s NIL law prohibiting agreements valid past athlete’s collegiate eligibility).

[25] See Schlabach, supra note 19 (highlighting structure of Dexter’s contract as key turning point in suit).

[26] See Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, supra note 2, at 12 (arguing that extended term provision runs contrary to clear intent of Florida legislature in limiting NIL deals to those that would only be applicable during athlete’s eligibility).

[27] See generally Defendant’s Motion to Compel Arbitration, Dexter v. Big League Advance Fund II, (N.D. Fla. Sept. 01, 2023) (Case No. 1:23-cv-00228) (declining to address merits of Dexter’s complaint and asking court to compel arbitration).

[28] See Schlabach, supra note 19 (“. . .it's pretty scary to think that this can happen. He's done all the right things. He has succeeded. He is in the NFL, and he's got this hanging over his head.").