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SBJ/December 16 - 22, 2002/Labor Agents
Agassi, manager Rogers find happy home and new endorsements at SFX
Published December 16, 2002
Want to know how to get Andre Agassi's heart? Jeff Lewis, president of SFX Sports, found the way. He made a donation to Agassi's charter school for disadvantaged children in Las Vegas after visiting the facility earlier this year.
Nearly three years after bolting from IMG, his longtime management company, Agassi, who earns more than $20 million annually in prize money, endorsement income and other fees, seems comfortably ensconced at SFX.
"The representation we have received from SFX is the most professional we have ever received," said Perry Rogers, Agassi's childhood friend and manager, in perhaps a not-so-subtle jab at IMG.
That representation is led by Ivan Blumberg, an SFX consultant, Lewis and Ken Meyerson, head of the company's tennis group.
"Jeff, Ivan and I met in [Washington] D.C. last week," Rogers said, talking in late August during the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. "Our communication is constant."
But it is still primarily Rogers, who also now works with Shaquille O'Neal, who calls the shots. When Deutsche Tele-kom wanted to use Agassi and his new wife, Steffi Graf, in an advertisement for its cellular phone company, it was Rogers who got the call.
So is Agassi, who is the only active tennis player on SFX's roster not managed directly by its tennis division, a client in name only, a trophy catch for marketing purposes?
Absolutely not, Rogers said, though he ended up speaking on SFX's behalf because Blumberg and Lewis did not return calls seeking comment on their client (it was Rogers who offered the anecdote about Lewis' contribution to the Agassi school).
Rogers said that SFX is very busy putting together Agassi's schedule and events. A Miami exhibition this month with Andy Roddick, another SFX client, benefited the Agassi foundation.
And Agassi's participation in the St. Petersburg Open in late October, complete with handsome appearance fee, came through Meyerson, Rogers said.
He also pointed to a DVD that SFX recently developed for Agassi to market him to potential sponsors, and said there are several major deals brewing.
Since arriving at SFX, Agassi has added Schick, Deutsche Telekom and, just recently, Kia Motors to his stable of endorsements, which includes Nike, Head and Canon cameras.
Rogers wouldn't comment on reports that SFX paid $10 million to entice Agassi to defect from IMG, though people close to SFX and Agassi have always said that was not true.
Asked if SFX was making money off Agassi, Rogers demurred, instead saying the company was receiving revenue from the relationship.