SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Labor Agents

Leaping into action: SFX Sports signs snowboarder

SFX Sports has signed its first action sports client, snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who recently won a gold medal at the Winter X Games.

Although the signing marks SFX’s first real foray into the action sports world, the agency isn’t launching an action sports division, at least not yet, said Josh Schwartz, SFX vice president of marketing and sales, who will be Jacobellis’ primary agent. Schwartz said that although the company is not actively looking for more action sports clients, the signing could help the agency make contacts in that world.

SFX expects Jacobellis to catch air — and airtime — at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
SFX signed Jacobellis, who is headed for the 2006 Winter Olympics, because Schwartz thinks she has the marketability to break through to a larger audience beyond the action sports fan base. Jacobellis has already signed deals with Visa and Paul Mitchell hair products and is in talks with a clothing company.

“She isn’t your typical snowboarder,” Schwartz said. “She has the opportunity to win two gold medals at the Olympics.”

In addition to endorsement deals, Jacobellis has done modeling work for Seventeen magazine and the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

LEGACY EYEING BUYOUT: The agents at Legacy Sports, the agency that was formerly Steinberg & Moorad, are working on a management-led buyout that would make the firm independent of parent company Loring Ward, said Legacy CEO Greg Genske.

“We haven’t completed a deal yet, but we have made a lot of progress,” said Genske, who would be part of the buyout along with football and baseball agents Scott Parker and Gene Mato and baseball agent Brian Peters. “Our hope is we are able to do that in the next couple of weeks.”

Loring Ward, formerly Assante Corp., announced earlier this month that it was divesting itself of Maximum Sports Management Inc., an agency owned by NFL player agent Eugene Parker, and hinted that it might be getting out of sports entirely.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Loring Ward said in a press release that it agreed to sell certain assets of Roanoke, Ind.-based Maximum back to the senior management of the firm, which includes Parker and agent Roosevelt Barnes. No financial terms were disclosed.

Sources said the company is leaving the sports business, after trying to build a multisport agency starting with the 1999 acquisition of the firm formerly owned by football agent Leigh Steinberg and former baseball agent Jeff Moorad. Steinberg left two years ago to found his own firm, Leigh Steinberg Enterprises, and Moorad left last year to become Arizona Diamondbacks CEO.

In a statement, Loring Ward Chairman Martin Weinberg said that he saw the company’s financial services business, not sports representation, as having the highest prospects for growth.

Loring Ward said it was “in various stages of discussion with its three remaining sports representation firms and will continue to operate them until such time as further determinations may be made.” Those other firms are an NBA player representation firm headed by agent Dan Fegan, an NHL player representation firm headed by agent Mike Gillis, and Legacy Sports.

SFX SIGNS ROLLE: SFX Sports signed University of Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle, a projected first-round NFL draft pick.

SFX Football agent Ben Dogra will represent Rolle. Rolle was represented by David Dunn of Athletes First.

OCTAGON ADDS RODGERS: Octagon signed California quarterback Aaron Rodgers for representation.

Rodgers and Utah’s Alex Smith, who is represented by IMG agent Tom Condon, are considered the top quarterback prospects in this year’s NFL draft.

ASHE STARTS WITH STOVALL: NFL and NBA agent Mason Ashe signed Florida State wide receiver Chauncey Stovall for representation in this year’s NFL draft.

The signing was one of the first client additions for Ashe since he formed his new company, Ashe Sports & Entertainment Consulting Inc. of Orlando. Ashe was formerly a partner with Bill Strickland in Strickland & Ashe Management.

Ashe’s clients include Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks and Memphis Grizzlies power forward Stromile Swift.

SONICS’ VOICE SIGNS: The Actors Group, a Seattle agency that specializes in representing

Kevin Calabro is firm’s “breakthrough.”
talent for commercial voice work and voice-overs, signed its first sports client, Seattle SuperSonics play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro, for representation.

“We have been looking hard at the sports market here in Seattle for the past year or so,” said Jamie Lopez, president of The Actors Group. “Kevin is our first breakthrough, and we expect to leverage his signing to draw interest with athletes from all the major sports teams in town.”

The Actors Group, which is 17 years old, works in both television and radio. “We have relationships at every level with producers of TV [and] radio ads, multimedia and non-broadcast projects and dramatic programs,” Lopez said. “Bottom line, we can introduce an athlete to producers for so many different kinds of projects, which really makes us the ideal fit for sports celebrities, broadcasters, etc., who want to expand their opportunities into entertainment and commercial work.”

SOMETHING COOKING AT IMG: Walter Scheib, who earlier this month resigned or was pushed out the door as the White House chef, depending on who you talk to, signed with IMG for representation for commercial opportunities, including literary, speaking appearances and broadcasting. “I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career,” said Scheib in a statement. Scheib was White House chef for 11 years.

IMG senior vice president Sandy Montag, who will serve as Scheib’s agent, said in a statement that Scheib’s “experiences in the White House give him a unique perspective and experience, and we are eager to explore a number of areas for his expertise and talents.” Montag, who heads IMG’s broadcast division, signed former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer for representation last year.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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