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SBJ/20101129/Labor & Agents
Friendly rivals in SEC recruiting will finally be on same team
Published November 29, 2010
and Jimmy Sexton met in 1989 when they were both just starting out in the agent business. They were competing to sign a talented tight end/linebacker out of the University of Mississippi.Pat Dye Jr.
That player, who ended up playing tight end in the NFL for 14 years, was Wesley Walls, who was drafted in the second round (56th overall) in 1989. Walls chose Sexton over Dye.
“The next year I came back and beat him on Tony Bennett, who was a top 20 pick from Ole Miss,” Dye said.
Over the next 20 years or so, Sexton and Dye met many times while recruiting football players from schools in the South, mostly in the SEC. Sometimes Sexton, now 47, would win the recruiting battle. Sometimes Dye, now 48, would. Oftentimes Sexton and Dye were the two remaining finalists to sign the player.
“There is probably 30 or 40 players I could name like that,” Sexton said. “He is on the eastern side of the SEC and we are on the western side. We are both from the Southeast, and we have both been going after the same players forever.”
Dye says that for years, “We found ourselves sitting in the same living rooms.”
Earlier this month, Sexton, owner of Memphis-based Athletic Resource Management, and Dye, owner of Atlanta-based ProFiles Sports, announced they would merge their firms to create a new company, Sports-Trust Advisors, representing more than 100 football and baseball players and more than 40 football, baseball and basketball coaches.
Sexton’s clients, who will be part of the new firm, include NFL players Philip Rivers, Jason Witten, Michael Oher and Tim Tebow, and coaches Nick Saban, Rex Ryan and Bill Parcells. ProFiles clients, who will also become SportsTrust clients, include DeMarcus Ware, Brian Urlacher, Keith Brooking, Ryan Clady and Rolando McClain.
The two agents, along with Sexton’s partner, Jim Denton, and Dye’s partners, Bill Johnson and Michael Perrett, will serve as the five principal members of SportsTrust.
“There is no money changing hands. This is a straight-up merger,” Dye said. “I don’t want to get into ownership or payouts.”
Sexton will keep his office in Memphis and Dye his in Atlanta, but the two expect to see some efficiencies of scale, including having one website, one marketing brochure and so on.
“I think you will see in the next five or six years we won’t waste as much time competing against each other,” Sexton said.
Both Sexton and Dye said the merger will give them more leverage in the marketplace for their clients. They said that their clients are prepared for a potential NFL lockout when the labor deal expires in March but that it is not the reason they merged. In fact, they have been talking about combining their businesses since at least 2002.
It’s no secret that many rival agents, especially NFL rival agents, despise one another. But Sexton and Dye, who literally grew up in the business together and have long enjoyed trading recruiting war stories at the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine, have always respected each other, and over time became true friends.
Dye says, “One thing I think is neat is I was the only agent invited to Jimmy’s wedding and he was the only agent invited to mine.”
ÈRE SIGNS MULLIN: Lagardère Unlimited has signed former NBA player Chris Mullin, a five-time all-star, for marketing, broadcasting and other opportunities. Lon Rosen, Lagardère president of entertainment, is representing him and recently negotiated a multiyear deal with ESPN for Mullin to serve as a studio analyst.LAGARD
Liz Mullen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.