SBJ/November 4 - 10, 2002/Labor Agents

Hambric adds IMG to lawsuit over departure of golfer Howell

Golf agent Rocky Hambric, who sued former client Charles Howell III earlier this year claiming breach of contract, has amended the lawsuit to include a claim of tortious interference against the golfer's new agency, IMG.

"We have some individuals who told us [IMG was] in part responsible for causing the breakup, so to speak," said Hambric's attorney, Mark Goodman, who filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Orlando.

The amended suit did not identify the "individuals who told us," nor would Goodman reveal their identity.

"The bottom line is there have been interviews we have conducted that led us to believe that IMG should be a party in this lawsuit," he said.

IMG responded with a statement: "Our primary obligation is to represent Charles Howell III. Any accusations against IMG are secondary and irrelevant."

Hambric's company, Hambric Sports Management, signed Howell in July 2000 to an exclusive representation agreement that was to expire Dec. 31, 2005, according to the lawsuit.

Hambric negotiated an endorsement deal with Callaway Golf Co. in August 2000 that paid Howell $2 million a year for 2001 through 2003, plus a $1 million signing bonus and the potential for more bonuses.

The lawsuit claims that in 2001 IMG "encouraged and convinced" Howell that he should end his deal with Hambric. It also alleges that IMG assured Howell that it would indemnify him from any lawsuit brought by Hambric.

Goodman said the trial in the case has been set for Dec. 1, 2003.

GLAUS GETS MEMORABILIA DEAL: World Series MVP Troy Glaus of the Anaheim Angels may be doing a lot of autograph signing in the off-season.

About three weeks ago, Glaus agreed to sign pictures, balls, bats, jerseys and the like for Tri Star Productions Inc., an autographed-memorabilia company based in Houston, said his agent, Mike Nicotera.

The deal included three levels of compensation for Glaus depending on whether the Angels won or lost the World Series, with the highest level reached if the team won and Glaus was named MVP, Nicotera said.

Nicotera, senior partner of The Sparta Group, a Parsippany, N.J., agency that represents about 40 MLB players, wouldn't reveal the financial details of the deal.

DUFFY PART OF TEAM YAO: NBA agent Bill Duffy will oversee marketing work for Houston Rockets rookie Yao Ming, said Erik Zhang, leader of "Team Yao," a group overseeing management of Yao's career.

Duffy, CEO of BDA Sports Management, and Bill Sanders, BDA's marketing director, will be primarily responsible for Yao's marketing but will work within the team structure, said Zhang, Yao's cousin and an M.B.A. student at the University of Chicago's business school.

"Our team goal is to provide the highest-quality service to Yao Ming by putting trusted expert professionals in every key position," Zhang said in an e-mail.

Zhang will head the team managing Yao's relationships in China. John Huizinga, a business school professor at the University of Chicago, is Yao's registered NBA agent and negotiated his $18 million, four-year deal with the Rockets.

Duffy, who first met Yao in 1998, was generally reported to be his agent for the last few years but publicly disappeared from the scene in the last year or so while Zhang negotiated a deal with the Chinese government to allow Yao to play in the NBA.

"It was everyone's decision for Bill to stay in the background," Zhang said. "There is a certain animosity in China about a basketball agent from the United States."

Duffy said he was thrilled to be part of Team Yao. "It will be just a matter of time that he will make a very significant contribution [in the NBA], I can promise you that," Duffy said.

AGENT ADVISER SERVICE LAUNCHED: Carl Carey, formerly the academic adviser to athletes at the University of North Carolina and the man who ran the agent search for last year's No. 2 NFL draft pick, Julius Peppers, has set up a company to help college athletes and their families select an agent.

Champion Pro Consulting Group Inc. opened offices in Houston and has launched a Web site at

"After the experience of coordinating Julius' agent search process, I walked away feeling that something needed to be done and that young men in his position needed alternatives," Carey said.

Liz Mullen can be reached at

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