Han Lee ’14 and Professor Ken Jacobsen Launch Firm to Assist Asian Baseball Players Transition to MLB

Temple Law student Han Lee ’14 has partnered with sports law
Professor Ken Jacobsen and former Temple Law Professor N. Jeremi
Duru to form Global Sporting Integration (GSI).  GSI’s
mission, as described by Han in the
Philadelphia Business Journal
, is “to ease the transition
process for professional athletes from abroad while playing their
sports in the United States.”  While the group’s initial focus
is on baseball players transitioning between the major leagues in
the U.S. and Asia, Professor Duru explained in an interview with
sports law blog
The Legal Blitz
that they see a need for their services in, for
example, American football as well:  “In the end, all of these
teams – baseball clubs and football clubs – are businesses, and
they strive to be the best. And the umbrella organizations, MLB and
the NFL, both want to grow their respective sports. The
similarities are substantial. In both contexts, if you have an idea
that will help organizations attain their goals, folks will listen
to what you have to say.”

The idea for GSI was Han’s, who saw similarities between the
struggles experienced by Asian players joining MLB teams and his
own experiences moving here from his native South Korea as a 15
year old exchange student.  In an article for the ABA Section
of Litigation newsletter, Han described the challenges faced by
many of these players: a new language, cultural context, foods, and
climates, in addition to differences in training schedules,
practice regimens, media expectations, and the way baseball is
played in the U.S. versus their native country.  While their
contracts represent major investments for MLB clubs, very little
attention has been paid to what these players need to thrive in the
U.S.  As a result, the players often underperform, damaging
their own careers and costing the clubs a lot of money.

That’s where GSI comes in.  With Han as CEO, GSI operates
as a consulting firm, working with the league, club, agents, and
players to ease the transition process.  Professor Duru noted
that while not every law student could pull off acting as CEO of
such an enterprise, Han is different:  “Han is a great CEO. He
is smart, enterprising, and has tremendous integrity. And his
personal experience with the difficult transition to the US
thoroughly informs our vision and mission. Maybe most importantly,
he’s extremely conscientious and manages his time really well. I
don’t think that very many students could get it all done. He’s a
special person.”