SBJ/June 20 - 26, 2005/Labor Agents

SFX’s quiet hire creates coach division

When bringing aboard major agents or acquiring their firms, big sports agencies generally announce the new hires and the top clients coming with them.

But two years ago, SFX Sports hired longtime agent Warren LeGarie and established a major coaches division, without any fanfare. LeGarie represents six NBA coaches, eight NBA general managers and about 20 NBA assistant coaches.

LeGarie’s clients include Phoenix Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe and former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson.

LeGarie, too, is a bit of a pioneer in the agent business and was one of the first to represent basketball players in Europe. He was current SFX CEO Arn Tellem’s first partner in the sports agency business. The two formed Tellem LeGarie Management in the late 1980s. Tellem later left that firm to form Tellem & Associates, which he sold to SFX in 1999.

The National Basketball Players Association prohibits player agents from representing coaches, general managers or any top NBA management officials. LeGarie no longer represents NBA players, but he still represents European basketball players. If one of those European players were to get a job in the NBA, he would get a different agent, an SFX official said.

Jeffrey Wernick, SFX Basketball executive vice president and chief operating officer, said SFX got approval from NBPA general counsel Ron Klempner to hire a coaches and general managers agent when it entered into an agreement with LeGarie two years ago.

“As long as there was not cross-pollination between our players representation and Warren’s coaches practice … there would not be any problem,” Wernick said.

IMG also began representing NBA coaches about two years ago and has one NBA client, Vince Carter, but represents Carter only for marketing. The NBPA does not regulate marketing agents, only player contract agents.

The NBPA had no immediate comment.

Wernick said there was no effort to hide the hiring of LeGarie, who did not insist on a press release. (LeGarie has been mentioned or quoted in more than 70 newspaper or wire stories in the last two years, but it is never mentioned that he is employed by SFX.)

Legacy Sports is advising Brian Bogusevic, the No. 24 pick in this year’s MLB draft.
LeGarie was in Italy last week and could not be reached for comment. But in an interview earlier this month, he said he has an unusual contractual relationship with SFX.

“I am really just rented for two years,” LeGarie said. “The day I leave them, there is no noncompete clause and I can open up [an agency] with no interference with them. … We are discussing whether I am going to stay.”

NBPA QUESTIONS NBA LOSSES: Andrew Zimbalist, former economist for the National Basketball Players Association, said the union was not able to substantiate league claims that NBA team owners lost $1 billion during the term of the current collective-bargaining agreement.

The NBA provided the NBPA with financial statements for its teams, but did not comply with union requests for backup information about the losses, said Zimbalist, who was the NBPA economist until a month ago.

A current union source would not comment except to say the finances of the league were not a major issue holding up a deal. The union’s new economist, University of Chicago economist Kevin Murphy, did not return a phone call.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, in an interview with SportsBusiness Journal last month, said NBA teams had lost $1 billion over the course of the CBA, which was agreed to in January 1999 and expires June 30. He said public perceptions that NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter got a bad deal for his players in the last negotiations are incorrect.

Zimbalist said that he and an accounting firm hired by the union reviewed financial statements of the teams and asked for but did not receive information about NBA owners’ related-party transactions. Without knowing about related-party transactions, such as how much money an NBA owner gets from a team’s arena, it is hard to know whether the losses are real, Zimbalist said.

LEGACY ADVISER TO MLB DRAFT PICK: Newport Beach, Calif.-based Legacy Sports is advising Brian Bogusevic, a left-handed pitcher from Tulane, who was the No. 24 pick in this year’s MLB draft. Agent Greg Genske serves as Bogusevic’s adviser.

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

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