SBJ/October 3-9, 2011/Labor and Agents

Familiar name Pros Inc. returns to golf representation business

Liz Mullen
Vinny Giles, one of the pioneers of the golf agent business, is getting back into it after retiring five years ago.

Giles may be best known as a player, having won both the U.S. Amateur and the British Amateur. He started his golf representation company, Pros Inc., in 1973. He sold it to Octagon in 1999.

Giles
“I stayed there for roughly seven years, and in the fall of ’06 I decided I’d had enough, so I guess I technically retired,” Giles said in a phone interview last week.

Things change. Late last month, a “new” company called Pros Inc. announced that it had signed golfer Ernie Els. Pros Inc. is owned by Giles, former Octagon Golf agent Giff Breed and Buddy Marucci, a successful businessman and well-known amateur golfer who was the captain of the U.S. Walker Cup teams in 2007 and 2009.  

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Ernie Els is the first client for Vinny Giles’ new version of Pros Inc.
Signing Els as your first client “is a nice start,” Giles said. “We call it the rebirth of Pros Incorporated, but I would say that, at the same time, it’s a new company. We are starting from scratch.”

Pros Inc. will be based in Richmond, Va., with an office in the Palm Beach, Fla., area. Giles said the group is hoping to represent between five and 15 high-quality golfers.

Els was formerly represented by Chubby Chandler; they parted ways last month. Giles said that he and his group did not recruit Els but that Els called them when he heard they were restarting their firm.

In addition to player representation, Pros Inc. hopes to do corporate consulting for groups that want to use golf as a way to entertain clients, Giles said.

Said veteran golf agent Rocky Hambric, “I think Vinny is, historically, one of the better agents; always was. The business of [golf] agents is pretty challenging, but when your first client is Ernie Els, you are 90 percent of the way of overcoming the issues.”
 
NEW RULES FOR NFL DISCIPLINE: The NFL collective-bargaining agreement now in effect contains some new language regarding how players can be disciplined for on-field conduct that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell deems detrimental to the game. Among the changes compared with the prior CBA is a clause stating that a fine for on-field behavior may be reduced “if it exceeds 25 percent of one week of a player’s salary for a first offense, and 50 percent of one week of a player’s salary for a second offense.”

Additionally, there is new language about fines for on-field hits and other conduct being paid out in installments. “Fines will be deducted at the rate of no more than $2,500 from each pay period, if sufficient pay periods remain; or, if less than sufficient pay periods remain, the fine will be deducted in equal installments over the number of remaining pay periods,” the CBA reads.

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If James Harrison faces another league fine, he won’t have to pay it all at once.
Under the old CBA, fines were deducted in one lump sum after the player’s appeal, if any, was heard and decided, said Bill Parise, agent for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who was fined four times last year. The entire amount “was deducted from the next check,” Parise said.

Attempts to reach the NFL and NFL Players Association for comment on the new language were unsuccessful.

The fines imposed on Harrison, including one for $75,000, were controversial and garnered substantial press last year. Not surprisingly, Parise feels the fines imposed on his client were unfair. “Not only was he doing his job, but he was doing his job in absolutely the prescribed manner in which he was taught to do it,” said Parise, who argued the fines and got two of the four reduced.

Parise said he did not know whether the language in the new CBA would affect fines in the future and noted that the NFLPA was scheduled to hold an agent seminar in Chicago last week to discuss some of the changes. But Parise also noted that it may take time to see whether there are any changes in the way players are fined. “We have a brand-new document,” he said.
 
BDA SIGNS NBA PLAYERS: BDA Sports, the basketball player representation firm headed by agent Bill Duffy, has signed for representation both former Indiana Pacers forward Josh McRoberts, now a would-be free agent, and Denver Nuggets forward Gary Forbes.

BDA agent Mike Conley Sr. will represent McRoberts; BDA agent Kevin Bradbury will represent Forbes. McRoberts was formerly represented by Bob Myers, who left Wasserman Media Group this spring to become an assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors. Forbes was formerly represented by Octagon.

“We are pleased to add Josh and Gary to the agency,” Duffy said in a statement. “They are both poised to go to the next level in their respective careers.”
 
SPORTSTRUST SIGNS PLAYERS: SportsTrust Advisors, the NFL player representation firm formed when veteran agents Pat Dye Jr. and Jimmy Sexton merged their practices late last year, has signed Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth for representation. The players will be represented by Dye and fellow agent Bill Johnson. Britt was formerly represented by Todd France. Whitworth was formerly represented by Stephen Colson.

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

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