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

Source: Moorad helped prospective owners, but didn’t want stake

Moorad (left) and the man he’ll replace, Jerry Colangelo, at news conference Aug. 6.

While he was an agent, Jeff Moorad tried to help former MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also worked with a group of investors who wanted to buy the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, said a source close to Moorad. The key though, the source added, is that Moorad himself wasn’t seeking a financial interest in the teams.

That distinction is important because the MLB Players Association is investigating whether Moorad’s recent switch from MLB player agent to his new position as CEO of the Diamondbacks violated union regulations regarding conflicts of interest.

Specifically, the union wants to know whether Moorad broke a rule prohibiting player agents from “holding or seeking to hold” a financial interest in any MLB club or other business venture that could create a conflict of interest between agent and client.

Moorad did not violate union rules because he acted in an advisory role, the source asserted, adding: “Jeff Moorad had explored over the last year or so, first with Peter Ueberroth, and then with investors out of Northern California, the possibility of establishing his own business much like an investment banking firm, where he would advise people on [the purchase of] professional sports franchises.”

MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza wouldn’t talk about the investigation, responding to questions with an e-mail that said, “We have no comment on the Moorad matter at this time.”

Greg Genske, who took over Moorad’s position at Moorad Sports Management, said the firm has been contacted by the MLBPA and will cooperate fully.

“They are interested in the details of Jeff’s resigning from the union and accepting a job on the team side,” Genske said. “The union should ensure there are no conflicts of interest. That is the union’s job.”

Moorad Sports
Management Inc.
Headquarters:
Newport Beach, Calif.
MLB Opening Day portfolio: 30 players earning $111.16 million in 2004 salaries, including Manny Ramirez ($22.5 million), Mo Vaughn ($17.17 million) and Shawn Green ($16.67 million), each of whom is the highest paid player on his respective team
Attempts to reach Ueberroth, who is now the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, were unsuccessful. Moorad was on vacation last week and unavailable for comment.

Moorad also had a business relationship with Ken Kendrick, one of the owners of the Diamondbacks. Kendrick said he has known Moorad for at least five years and is a partner with him in a non-baseball, private business, but he wouldn’t give further details.

“I would say the union has every right to investigate Jeff,” Kendrick said. “I think he is a person of real integrity and he has conducted his affairs in that manner.”

The baseball players union usually is mum on investigations of agents, but Orza confirmed the investigation to USA Today last week. Sources said the union was not happy that it got no advance notice of Moorad’s switch to management.

David Cornwell, outside counsel to Moorad Sports Management, said Moorad has severed ties to Loring Ward International, which owns the sports agency, and has no further financial, equity or other interest in the agency or its parent company.

Cornwell added that when Moorad “commenced his discussions with the Diamondbacks, adequate safeguards were put in place to ensure that he would not breach any of his duties to his clients and that no other employee of Moorad Sports would be put in the position that would implicate their duties to the company’s clients.”

Those who know him say Moorad has long wanted to run or own a club.

“I think he always felt at the end of his representation career it would be exciting and fulfilling to run a baseball team. It was something that we talked about a number of times over the years.,” said NFL agent Leigh Steinberg, Moorad’s partner from the mid-1980s until 2003.

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