SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/Labor Agents

Ward sports agency drives to specialize in motocross, 4-wheel racers

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Indy Racing League driver and motocross champion Jeff Ward has joined forces with a motorsports lawyer and a driver manager to open Ward Sports Management, an agency that will specialize in representing two-wheel and four-wheel racers.

Ward Sports Management, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., opened offices about two months ago, said longtime motorsports lawyer David Atlas, the agency's president. Atlas formerly represented Roger Penske, Al Unser Jr. and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Will Prappas, a longtime manager of drivers, has joined Ward Sports Management as executive vice president, although he will split his time between the new firm and his firm, the Prappas Co. Prappas' current clients, including CART drivers Jimmy Vasser, Alex Tagliani and Michel Jourdain Jr. as well as F3000 driver Townsend Bell, will remain clients of Prappas Co., Prappas said.

Prappas' primary job at Ward will be to provide financial services, he said.

Atlas said that Ward Sports will look to develop clients among "people who have already arrived" in motocross and motorsports, as well as give "guidance to talent at the teenage level where we feel, based on our observations at the track, these are the up-and-coming champions."

Atlas said the company plans to advise the families of young motocross and four-wheel drivers, without signing them to official representation agreements. "As there becomes more competition among sports management companies we may have to reconsider that," he said.

Initially, the company will concentrate on two-wheel racers, Atlas said. "Motocross, particularly, is very akin to the action sports — skateboarding, surfing, BMX bikes — and that is an important part of business philosophy," he said.

"Our target is not to market in Charlotte, N.C., and inject ourselves into the Winston Cup arena," Atlas said. "That is pretty much spoken for." Instead, Ward Sports Management will focus on "the market in Southern California, young motocross and four-wheel athletes," which may expand into representing other action-sports athletes, he said.

Atlas said he may have some clients to announce in the next 30 to 60 days.

Lampe

EDGE SIGNS NBA PROSPECTS: Edge Sports International Inc. signed top NBA draft prospect Maciej Lampe, a 7-foot forward who has been playing professionally in Europe. Lampe was ranked No. 5 last week in the mock draft at Web site nbadraft.net. Edge also signed basketball players Zoltan Bencze of Albacomp, Henry Domercant of Eastern Illinois, Jerome Coleman of Rutgers University and Michal Ignerski of Mississippi State.

OCTAGON SIGNS DRAFT PROSPECTS: Octagon has signed several prospects for the NBA draft, including potential first-rounders Kirk Hinrich, a guard from the University of Kansas; forward Boris Diaw of France; and David West, a forward from Xavier. They were ranked Nos. 8, 19 and 20, respectively, on nbadraft.net last week.

Octagon also signed Wake Forest guard Josh Howard, University of Oklahoma guard Hollis Price, Western Kentucky University center Chris Marcus, Stanford guard Julius Barnes, UNC Wilmington guard Brett Blizzard and Ohio University forward Brandon Hunter.

Octagon agents Jeff Austin, Doug Neustadt, Lance Young, Chris Emens and Andre Colona represent the players.

WALTON SIGNS WITH BABBY, TANNER: Luke Walton, son of NBA legend Bill Walton and a senior at the University of Arizona, has signed with Williams & Connolly lawyers and agents Lon Babby and Jim Tanner for representation in the NBA draft.

EVOLVE SIGNS SURFER: Evolve Sports Management, a San Francisco-based firm that specializes in representing action-sports athletes, has signed big-wave surfer Jeff Clark to manage his business affairs through 2004. Clark is best known as one of the first surfers to tackle the giant waves at Maverick's surf break in Half Moon Bay, Calif.

Contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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