SBJ/July 22 - 28, 2002/Labor Agents

Retired player Svoboda will collect Czechs as agent working with Del Duca

Petr Svoboda, who recently retired from the NHL after 18 years, has become an agent, going into business with veteran football agent Ron Del Duca, part of a continuing trend of former athletes going into the agent business.

Svoboda and Del Duca formed a partnership to recruit and represent hockey players as part of Del Duca's company, Sportrust Associates International Inc.

"We feel Petr has the contacts, being an 18-year veteran, and I have the experience doing contracts," Del Duca said. "So we think it's a good combination."

The pair has already had success, signing new client Robert Lang to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Washington Capitals.

The pair represents two 2002 NHL draft picks: Jakub Klepis, selected in the first round by Ottawa, and Jiri Hudler, picked in the second round by Detroit. Del Duca also represents Pavel Kubina of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jaroslav Bednar of the Los Angeles Kings.

Svoboda, a Czech, was the fifth pick in the 1984 draft. Del Duca said Svoboda is a well-known name in the Czech Republic and will work on recruiting players there.

Del Duca, who has been an NFL agent since 1992, represents 16 NFL players.

  PREMIER SIGNS FOUR OLYMPIANS: Premier Management Group, a company specializing in representing Olympic athletes, has signed four new clients, including eight-time Olympic medalist and swimmer Jenny Thompson, for marketing, endorsements and public relations work.

PMG President Evan Morgenstein said he also signed Olympic swimmers Klete Keller and Nate Dusing and Olympic weightlifter Tara Nott.

Morgenstein, who has been in the agent business since 1995, said recruiting Olympic athletes is tougher than ever. He said he called Keller, an undergraduate swimmer at USC, a few hours after Keller had decided to leave school and turn professional.

"I found out within a half-hour [that he was leaving school and could hire an agent] and sent him an e-mail, which really blew him away," Morgenstein said. "But what really blew me away is, within a day, three other agents had called him."

Morgenstein said that in the past, agents would wait until just before the Olympics, when athletes had made the U.S. team, before signing them. Now, agents are signing prospects years in advance of the Games. Keller is expected to compete in Athens in 2004.

Morgenstein has hired former U.S. national champion swimmer Bobby Brewer, who was once his client, as vice president and director of marketing. PMG now represents 39 athletes.

  STANLEY SIGNS DAVIS: NBA and NFL agent Jerome Stanley has signed Baron Davis of the New Orleans Hornets for representation. Davis was formerly represented by Arn Tellem.

Stanley wouldn't comment on the signing, other than to say, "We believe Baron is on his way to becoming the elite player in the NBA."

Los Angeles-based Stanley & Associates represents three NBA players and five NFL players, including Keyshawn Johnson.

  EVOLVE SIGNS BADMANN: Evolve Strategy, a San Francisco-based sports marketing and consulting company, has signed three-time women's Ironman world champion Natascha Badmann for representation.

Evolve was founded in November 2001 by Keir Beadling, who formerly worked as a litigator focusing on high-tech corporate issues. The firm represents eight extreme sports athletes.

Badmann already has several endorsement deals, including Credit Suisse, Red Bull, ZootSports and Oakley. Open categories include footwear and watches.

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

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Hockey, Labor and Agents, NBA, NFL, NHL

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