SBJ/March 25 - 31, 2002/Labor Agents

Hockey practice back to Grossman, but firm maintains SFX ties

NHL agent Jay Grossman has bought back his hockey practice from SFX Sports to address concerns of the NHL Players' Association about the perception of a conflict of interest, said Jeff Lewis, chairman of SFX Sports Group.

"Mr. Grossman owns the stock of the hockey company," Lewis said last week. SFX Sports will provide marketing and public relations for Grossman's clients, who include last year's No. 1 NHL draft pick, Ilya Kovalchuk. SFX will also be Grossman's landlord, Lewis said.

The new name of Grossman's company is Puck Agency LLC, Lewis said. Grossman did not return phone inquiries about the new company.

Lewis would not provide financial details of the deal to sell the company back to the hockey agent but said that the action satisfies concerns raised by the NHLPA.

SFX is owned by Clear Channel Communications. Tom Hicks, owner of the NHL Dallas Stars and MLB Texas Rangers, is vice chairman of that company as well as a major shareholder, creating a potential conflict with representation of NHL and MLB players. Additionally, the company has potential perceived conflicts in football and basketball representation, since Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs is a major Clear Channel shareholder and the company has business dealings with the NBA.

Lewis said that the action of the company to create separate entities — SFX Baseball, SFX Basketball and SFX Football — for the three other team sports satisfied concerns of other players union officials.

But the NHLPA has a strict policy on potential conflicts of interest.

NHLPA policy forbids agents to represent or provide services, either directly or indirectly, to any official of an NHL team or other professional hockey team. Agents also are barred from "engaging in any other activity which creates an actual or potential conflict of interest with the effective representation of players," other than representing more than one player on an NHL team.

"We are satisfied with the new arrangement," Jonathan Weatherdon, NHLPA spokesman, said of Grossman buying the equity of the hockey practice from SFX Sports.

Lewis said the deal to separate the hockey practice was worked out late last year and completed early this year. Lewis said there were never any "actual" conflicts of interest regarding the representation of professional team athletes.

 ALL PRO SIGNS THREE: All Pro Sports & Entertainment, a Denver-based boutique football representation firm, has signed three promising prospects for April's NFL draft: University of Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard, and wide receiver Antonio Bryant and defensive back Ramon Walker, both from the University of Pittsburgh.

NFL agents Lamont Smith and Peter Schaffer represent the players.

 LMM SPORTS ADDS SIX: LMM Sports Management of Scottsdale, Ariz., signed several players highly rated for this April's NFL draft.

The players are Auburn offensive tackle Kendall Simmons, Nebraska guard Toniu Fonoti, Nebraska cornerback Keyou Craver, Oregon cornerback Rashad Bauman, Oregon safety Wes Mallard and BYU defensive end Ryan Denney.

"We feel it is one of our best classes ever," said LMM Sports principal Eric Metz.

The players also are represented by LMM agents Ethan Lock and Vance Malinovic.

Shannon McMillan will put her eyes behind Gatorz Eyewear in a new deal.

 McMILLAN SPORTS EYEWEAR DEAL: U.S. women's national team and San Diego Spirit star forward Shannon McMillan has signed an endorsement deal with Gatorz Eyewear to wear the sunglasses.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It was negotiated by Sports-Net LLC founder and principal Richard Motzkin and the company's agent, Carie Goldberg.

 OLYMPIANS GO TO SCHOOL: Olympic gold medalist Courtney Shealy and silver medalist Kristy Kowal, both U.S. swimmers, have signed deals to make appearances at schools in the Atlanta area on behalf of the Arby's "Committed to the Community" program. Both Kowal and Shealy competed at the University of Georgia.

Financial details were not disclosed. Evan Morgenstein, president of Premier Management Group, a Raleigh company that specializes in marketing Olympic athletes, negotiated the deals.

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

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