SBJ/February 10 - 16, 2003/Labor Agents

Sampras returning to IMG

Win one, lose one.

Just as Hollywood talent power the William Morris Agency celebrated getting Andy Roddick, it lost Pete Sampras, who returned to his former agency, IMG.

Sampras left IMG in 1998 under stormy circumstances. His agent, Jeff Schwartz, defected to form his own outfit before moving on to the now defunct AMG Sports. Sampras followed him, but not without provoking lawsuits from IMG over his representation.

As part of the settlement, IMG continued to be described as the tennis legend's co-agent as long as Schwartz remained in the picture. IMG also continued to receive commissions on existing endorsements.

AMG unraveled last year, and Schwartz departed to create his own company. Sampras instead followed Jill Smoller to William Morris, thereby severing him from IMG for the first time in 9 years.

Smoller, an ex-tennis player and close friend of Sampras' wife, actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, worked with Schwartz at AMG and helped form William Morris' sports division.

"He wanted more the hard-core tennis business and felt he would be better served at a more traditional firm," Smoller said. "Pete and I are on terrific terms. I have nothing but great things to say about Pete."

At IMG, Sampras will be handled by Bob Kain, IMG's North American president and chief operating officer, who began advising the 14-time Grand Slam champion in 1988 when Sampras turned pro at 16.

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Related Topics:

IMG, Labor and Agents, Tennis

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