SBJ/20100517/Labor & Agents

Bear with them: CAA Sports signs to represent Jack Nicklaus

CAA Sports has signed golf legend Jack Nicklaus for representation and will work to develop opportunities for the man Sports Illustrated named the best individual male athlete of the 20th century, including global business development, speaking, television, corporate relationships, and digital media.

Golf agents Andy Pierce and Mike Rielly and CAA Managing Partner Rob Light will lead a team from throughout the agency representing Nicklaus.

Nicklaus, 70, who is nicknamed “The Golden Bear,” has won 118 professional tournament victories worldwide and a record 18 professional major championship titles. His golf course design business, Nicklaus Design, has 346 courses open for play in 34 countries, and 90 have hosted professional tournaments worldwide.

Nicklaus has added a busy golf course design
business to his legendary playing career.

“We at the Nicklaus Cos. are very familiar with CAA’s long-standing reputation of excellence in the entertainment industry, as well as their more recent history of representing world-class athletes,” Nicklaus Cos. CEO John Reese said. “Once introduced, we quickly saw in CAA a creative and aggressive group who understood the legacy of Jack Nicklaus and the value of the Nicklaus brand.”

Nicklaus was formerly a client of IMG and with fellow golf legend Arnold Palmer was one of its first clients that helped build it into a global agency. Nicklaus originally signed with IMG in 1961 but left in 1971 to build his own golf business. He returned as a IMG client in 2002.

“We have enjoyed a great working relationship with him over the years and we parted amicably and we wish him great continued success,” an IMG spokesman said.

 TWO UP, ONE DOWN: CAA Football has signed Jonathan Goodwin, the New Orleans Saints’ Pro Bowl center. He will be represented by a team of agents led by Ben Dogra. Goodwin was represented by Fletcher Smith.

CAA also signed Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl quarterback Vince Young, who will be represented by a team of agents led by Tom Condon. Young, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft, was represented by Major Adams.

Additionally, CAA was dropped by San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman, a restricted free agent.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco tweeted on Twitter last week that Merriman “has fired agent Tom Condon and now is represented by agent David Dunn.” Merriman retweeted Ochocinco’s tweet about his representation.

Multiple sources said Dunn, president of Athletes First, was expected to sign Merriman. Dunn did not return a phone call.

There is a five-day waiting period between when an NFL player can hire a new agent after terminating his previous agent. Ochocinco tweeted his news last Tuesday. It is not clear when Merriman fired CAA, but sources said it was over the previous weekend.

 FALK HAVING BIG DRAFT: NBA agent David Falk, the most powerful agent of the 1990s, is having a big year, signing two projected top 10 draft picks. Earlier this month he signed Ohio State guard Evan Turner, projected on most draft boards at No. 2.

Last week he signed Georgetown power forward Greg Monroe, who was ranked No. 5 by NBADraft.net. Until Falk took a break from representing NBA rookies from 2000 to 2006, he represented numerous first-round NBA draft picks, including repping the Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 8 picks in 1997.

Falk can’t remember exactly how many NBA draft first-rounders he has represented but said, “I know that I have represented 48 players chosen in the top 10.”

Falk sold his company FAME to the old SFX Sports in the late 1990s for $100 million, but the stock of the parent company appreciated so much that it ended up being worth close to $200 million, he confirmed.

He has chosen to run a boutique NBA practice with just a few select clients he enjoys working with. “I am not going to represent more than two or three players in the draft,” Falk said. “I could have signed more players, I just didn’t want to.”

 PELINKA SIGNS TWO: The Landmark Sports Agency, owned by agent Rob Pelinka, has signed two projected NBA lottery picks, Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson and North Carolina forward Ed Davis, for representation.

Los Angeles-based Landmark will represent both players on and off the court. Johnson was ranked No. 4 and Davis No. 10 last week by NBADraft.net. Pelinka is best known as agent to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.

 EXCEL ADDS PROSPECTS: Excel Sports Management, owned by agent Jeff Schwartz, has signed Nevada point guard Armon Johnson. Excel also signed Marquette forward Lazar Hayward, Virginia shooting guard Sylven Landesberg, and Cal shooting guard Patrick Christopher. NBADraft.net had Johnson ranked No. 21 and Hayward ranked No. 60 last week.

Schwartz, Mike Lindeman and Sam Goldfeder will represent the players.

Excel earlier signed Kansas center Cole Aldrich, ranked No. 8.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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