SBJ/August 16 - 22, 2004/This Weeks Issue

New Moorad CEO set to defend turf

The new head of Moorad Sports Management knows his competitors will try to steal his clients now that veteran agent Jeff Moorad has left to become CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But Greg Genske says he’s ready.

“While [Moorad’s departure] may come as a shock to people in the sports industry, the people at Moorad Sports have known about this day and been preparing for this day for over a year,” said Genske, 32, the new CEO of the Newport Beach, Calif., firm, which represents 40 MLB players, 40 minor league baseball players and five NFL players. The client list includes stars such as MLB’s Manny Ramirez, Luis Gonzalez, Shannon Stewart and Darin Erstad, and NFL running back Edgerrin James.

But one rival agent said, “It’s open season,” echoing the sentiments of others in the representation business, none of whom would comment for the record.

“I think other agents have been trying to steal our clients since I joined the firm,” Genske said. “It is just the nature of our business. We are quite confident that our clients are satisfied and will be staying with us.”

Genske was hired last November as executive vice president and was groomed by Moorad to take over the practice. Genske said Moorad, 49, told him that being a sports agent was “a young man’s business.”

Colangelo turns attention back to NBA

Jerry Colangelo plans to focus more on his role as chairman

of the NBA board of governors, Colangelo said last week after the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks announced that he would be replaced as CEO of the team by former agent Jeff Moorad.

With the NBA’s collective-bargaining agreement expiring at the end of the 2004-05 season, there’s plenty to do, Colangelo said.

“I believe [the NBA has] a very solid partnership and we need to protect it and prolong it, regardless of what happens in other sports,” Colangelo said, adding that NBA Commissioner David Stern told him, “I want you to be involved with us for 100 years.”

Stern said of Colangelo, “He has been deeply involved in every major decision in the NBA over the last decade — collective bargaining, television negotiations and the new league launches, and his agreement on the ultimate sale of the Suns provides for him being involved as both governor for the team and an active voice in the NBA.”

It was a surprise to be replaced as head of the Diamondbacks, Colangelo said, “And yet, personality differences between myself and one member of the new general partnership was such that it was not a surprise.”

Colangelo is set to become chairman of the MLB team after this year, but said he expects that will be “in title only.”

He did not comment further, other than to say, “I want to put it behind me.”

— Liz Mullen

It is somewhat ironic that the new head of a firm that other agents predict will be raided was part of the legal team that won a $44 million jury award in a trial over client stealing. Genske was one of the lawyers who convinced a federal jury that agent David Dunn acted inappropriately in taking 50 NFL player clients from the firm of Dunn’s former partners, Moorad and Leigh Steinberg.

Brock Gowdy, managing director of the San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis Bockius and head of the legal team that handled the case for Steinberg and Moorad, said Genske was instrumental in winning the verdict.

“He is tough and forthright,” Gowdy said. “I wouldn’t be misled by his boyish charm.”

Kent Roger, a partner at Morgan Lewis, said third-year associates are rarely given the responsibility Genske had in such a big trial. “He is a bulldog,” Roger said.

Genske said part of his job on the litigation team was to become an expert in the business of athlete representation.

Scott Parker, a Moorad Sports lawyer who has worked on some of the firm’s biggest contracts in both baseball and football, said Genske has become “very capable and very competent” in a short time.

He noted, too, that all the agents and client service managers who worked for Moorad for years are staying with the firm, including Brian Peters and Gene Mato.

Genske said the “Moorad” name also is staying, at least for now.

Among the challenges Genske has to deal with is an MLB Players Association investigation into whether Moorad’s switch from representation to management violated the union’s conflict of interest rules (see related story above).

A major football client has fired the company, complaining about a contract negotiated by Moorad and Parker just before Moorad left the firm. Sean Taylor, the fifth pick in this year’s NFL draft, fired the agency just days before Moorad left and days after signing a deal with the Washington Redskins.

Taylor re-signed with NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus, the agent whom Taylor had fired right after the draft in favor of Moorad and Mato. Rosenhaus said Taylor now thinks his deal is below market value, and that the fact that Moorad negotiated the deal and then quit the agent business is an issue he has taken up with the NFL Players Association.

Genske replied, “We think the deal will stand up over time as a good deal.”

The Taylor deal was one that Moorad had a major role in negotiating, but in the last several months Genske, Parker and other agents in the firm have been taking over much of the contract and other work, which is why Genske thinks the firm will be able to retain player clients. High-profile baseball clients, including Shawn Green, Stewart and Gonzalez, have said they plan to remain with the firm.

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