SBJ/April 30 - May 6, 2007/Labor Agents

Olympic agent Taub going to CAA to handle national marketing

Lowell Taub, best known as agent to skier Bode Miller, will join Creative Artists Agency’s sports division, starting this week.

Taub represents a number of Olympians and broadcasters and will be bringing his clients with him. However, his focus will be on national marketing for CAA Sports’ growing client list of more than 380 professional athletes.

Taub, who worked at SFX Sports before starting his own agency, GFHF Marketing & Management, will work out of CAA’s New York office.

Lowell Taub (right) is known best for being
the agent for U.S. skier Bode Miller.

 HENKEL CHARGED IN TOMLINSON DEAL: Bill Henkel, the former IMG Football marketing director who is the marketing agent to top NFL draft prospect Adrian Peterson, has been charged with commercial bribery and theft in connection with a memorabilia deal he negotiated for his former client, NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson.

Henkel turned himself in to the Johnson County, Kan., sheriff’s office on April 20 and was released on $10,000 bond that same day, said Deputy Tom Erickson.

Henkel, now managing director of a new company, 10 Sports Marketing, said, “I am going to let the loyalty of the players I have represented speak for me as this matter gets resolved.” He added that Peterson is aware that he has been charged. Henkel’s attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said, “Mr. Henkel maintains his innocence and we plan to make a very vigorous defense.”

A complaint issued against Henkel by the Johnson County district attorney’s office claims Henkel “willfully obtain(ed) unauthorized control over property … with the intention to permanently deprive the owner, to wit: LaDainian Tomlinson and/or IMG Worldwide Inc.”

IMG sued Henkel last year after he left the company and attached an affidavit by Tomlinson in which the running back stated, “In early December 2005, I learned that Henkel had pressured the sports memorabilia company into agreeing to pay him an improper, secret $75,000 kickback, $18,700 of which had already been paid to Henkel, for securing my services to the memorabilia company.”

Brian Burgess, spokesman for the Johnson County district attorney, said, “The allegation is that Henkel represented that he was negotiating with this memorabilia company on behalf of LaDainian Tomlinson, and as part of that negotiation, he required a cash payment to himself.”

The theft charge against Henkel is for theft of more than $1,000 and less than $25,000. “There is some amount between [$1,000 and $25,000] that is alleged to have been received by Mr. Henkel,” Burgess said. “And the allegation was that IMG should have received those funds.”

Marketing agent Bill Henkel has been charged
in connection with a memorabilia contract he
negotiated for former client LaDainian Tomlinson
of the San Diego Chargers.

Among the witnesses listed on the complaint against Henkel are Tomlinson, his contract agent, Tom Condon, executives from the memorabilia company, and custodians of records from three banks and four phone companies.

 DELL AND STRICKLAND SIGN BREWER: Donald Dell and Bill Strickland, veteran agents who joined Blue Equity last year, signed Florida forward Corey Brewer for representation in this year’s NBA draft.

Dell and Strickland’s signing of Brewer follows their signing of his teammate and roommate, Joakim Noah.

Dell also was the agent for Joakim Noah’s father, Yannick, a former professional tennis player.

 SFX TENNIS SIGNS TOP JUNIOR WOMAN: SFX Tennis, the athlete representation firm acquired by Blue Equity last year, signed Ksenia Milevskaya, a 16-year-old tennis player from Belarus who is the No. 2 women’s junior player in the world.

Agent John Tobias will represent Milevskaya. Tobias, 29, is a fast-rising tennis agent who counts pro men’s tour players such as the Bryan brothers and Sam Querrey among his clients.

“We don’t sign many players,” Tobias said. “We wanted to continue the trend of representing the top juniors in the world.”

Sixteen-year-old Ksenia Milevskaya will be
represented by John Tobias at SFX Tennis.

In 2005, SFX Tennis signed then-No. 1 junior Victoria Azarenka, and in 2006, the group signed No. 1 junior Caroline Wozniacki.

 SAMPRAS BROTHERS OPEN AGENCY: Tennis legend Pete Sampras and his brother, Gus Sampras, a former  IMG executive, have opened their own agency with an eye on representing some of the next stars of the game.

Los Angeles-based Pure Sports Management will oversee Pete Sampras’ business opportunities, as well as pursuing other sports-related opportunities, including representing tennis players.

Pete Sampras said he will be involved in recruiting and mentoring young tennis player clients, although “I am not coming in as an agent with a suit and tie,” he said. Sampras retired in 2003 after winning 14 Grand Slam events, more than any other player.

“I look at some of the young athletes coming out today, [and] I wish I had someone who could have mentored me,” Sampras said. “I am not going to be day-to-day, e-mailing, on the phone. [But] I am looking forward to getting some clients I could mentor on and off the court.”

Gus Sampras, who has been the business manager, treasurer and secretary of Pistol Pete Inc., the entity that oversees the financial activities of Pete Sampras, worked for 12 years at IMG, where he held the titles of director of professional tennis properties, senior account executive and event manager. He left IMG last year. He also has worked on nontennis sports projects, including developing sponsorships for Olympic and professional volleyball, and consulting for USC in selling the naming rights to its basketball arena.

The company will focus primarily on representing tennis players, but is open to representing athletes in other sports.

 GAYLORD NOT REPRESENTING LEINART: There was speculation in the agency business last week that Gaylord Sports, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based firm that represents golfers and MLB players, had been hired to represent Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart for marketing work.

Leinart has dropped CAA Sports for marketing work, although CAA football agent Tom Condon continues to co-represent Leinart for NFL contract work with independent agent Chuck Price.

The rumors about Gaylord got started when the agency sent out a letter stating that it was representing the quarterback, according to sources and confirmed by Price. Gaylord even put Leinart’s photo on its Web site next to its other clients, including Phil Mickelson.

Price said that he has had discussions with Gaylord about representing Leinart for regional marketing deals in Arizona, but that the firm has not been hired. Gaylord officials did not return phone calls.

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

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