SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2001/Labor Agents

Magnum’s SEC filing shows percentage difference between agent’s clients

Agents who become part of a publicly traded company find that information they once kept private can suddenly become public.

Magnum Sports & Entertainment, which owns the practice of NFL agent Joel Segal, revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Segal charged NFL player client Gerard Warren a 1 percent agency fee and charged another NFL player client, Rod Gardner, a 3 percent fee for contract negotiations this summer.

Warren, a defensive lineman from the University of Florida, was the third player picked in the 2001 NFL draft and signed a five-year, $44 million contract with the Cleveland Browns with an option for a sixth year, including $12 million in guaranteed bonuses payable over three years, according to the filing.

Gardner, a wide receiver from Clemson who was selected 15th overall by the Washington Redskins, signed a $7.7 million, five-year contract that provides for a $5.3 million signing and reporting bonus payable over two years.

Agents who are certified with the NFL Players Association have access to the contract that the player signs with the team, said Richard Berthelsen, NFLPA general counsel. That contract, however, does not disclose the fee that the agent charged the player. NFLPA regulations stipulate that 3 percent is the maximum an agent can charge.

The agent's fee is disclosed on the representation agreement signed by the player and agent and filed with the NFLPA, Berthelsen said. But that agreement is not available to other certified NFL agents, he said.

Segal declined to say why he charged the players different percentage fees or to comment for this story. As previously reported in SportsBusiness Journal, Magnum is in the process of divesting the football practice in a deal in which Segal would be on his own, according to Magnum CEO Bob Gutkowski.

Other NFL agents, who declined to be identified, said some agents often lower fees as a way to win player clients when competing against other agents. In general, higher-profile, more experienced agents tend to charge higher fees, some agents said.

Berthelsen said the average fee charged to NFL players is probably between 2.25 percent and 2.75 percent.

FENECH SIGNS SKATERS SALÉ, PELLETIER: Craig Fenech, longtime agent of baseball players, basketball coaches and sports media personalities, has ventured into the world of figure skating by signing world champion Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier for marketing, endorsements and other representation.

Fenech, who met the skaters through another client, said he is excited about working with the two, who are famous in Canada and are among the favorites for the 2002 Olympic Games. Fenech said they are good-looking and extremely marketable. "I think they are going to be huge everywhere," he said.

The skaters have endorsement deals with MasterCard and General Mills in Canada that they signed before hiring Fenech, president of Sparta Group. Fenech said the two skaters would fit as endorsers in many categories in the United States and worldwide. Possibilities include "anything where synchronicity is important," such as wristwatches and software, he said.

IMG MODELS SIGNS BLAKE: IMG Models, a division of the big sports agency, has signed IMG Tennis client James Blake to a modeling contract.

"Oftentimes, we will bring a good-looking tennis player [to IMG Models] and they will say, 'Yes, that is a good-looking person, but they don't have that look that the fashion houses and the fashion magazines are looking for,'" said Carlos Fleming, the IMG tennis agent who represents Blake.

But IMG Models officials said the 6-foot-1, Harvard-educated Blake "has a great look" for fashion, Fleming said. Blake, who is ranked No. 86 in the world among men's tennis players, signed a lucrative footwear and apparel contract with Nike two years ago.

Fleming said IMG officials have to be careful that none of his modeling jobs interferes with that contract. They have already had to turn down some work.

IMANI SIGNS BENNETT: Imani Sports has signed promising golfer David Bennett, who recently turned professional, for marketing and other representation. Imani Sports President Chris Murray, best known as the agent for golfer Casey Martin, will represent Bennett.

Bennett said he chose Imani over five other agencies he interviewed because he had a good personal rapport with Murray and other Imani employees. "Right from the get-go our personalities meshed," he said.

Imani also signed golf client Natalie Gulbis, who recently turned pro, to an endorsement deal with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf that includes hat, bag, apparel, footwear and clubs. Murray declined to reveal the value of the deal.

OCTAGON SIGNS SURFING BROTHERS: The new action sports division of Octagon has signed top surfers and brothers Andy and Bruce Irons for representation in marketing, endorsements and appearances.

Action sports division head Peter Carlisle will represent the two brothers. Carlisle sold his Carlisle Sports Management to Octagon in a deal completed earlier this year.

Please contact Liz Mullen with agent and labor news at lmullen@amcity.com.

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