SBJ/June 4-10, 2012/Labor and Agents

Figure behind effort to organize agents owned football teams

Liz Mullen
An NFL Players Association-certified agent who is trying to form a national trade association for sports agents owned and managed two professional football teams last year, something he failed to disclose to the union and the other agents he is trying to organize.

Andrew Bondarowicz said he has sent emails to about 2,500 sports agents and other athlete representatives in the last few months about his efforts to found what he calls the National Association of Sports Agents and Athlete Representatives. The association seeks to represent agents’ interests in dealing with players associations, the NCAA and other entities, and Bondarowicz wrote in an email to agents May 24 that it has received “hundreds of calls and emails” pledging support.

In that email, Bondarowicz described himself as an NFL agent, an entertainment attorney and a former senior executive of several state trade associations, but did not disclose his ownership or management of the two football teams last year.

Bondarowicz served as the team president for the Trenton (N.J.) Steel and the Fayetteville (N.C.) Force in 2011, two currently defunct teams that were part of the former Southern Indoor Football League. Bondarowicz said he had a “direct ownership” of the Steel and an “indirect ownership” of the Force, both of which paid players $150 to $250 a week. According to stories in the Fayetteville Observer, Bondarowicz failed to pay the football players on the Force on time last year. Bondarowicz said last week that paychecks to Force players were not missed, but said one paycheck may have been “delayed by two days.”

Bondarowicz has been certified by the NFLPA since 2005 and represents five NFL players, but did not tell the union of his ownership in the two football clubs, he said. “There is nothing in the NFLPA regulations … that prevented us from the role that we had,” he said.

However, an NFLPA source said that in its agent regulations is one stating that “holding or seeking to hold, either directly or indirectly, a financial interest in any professional football club or any other business entity when such an investment could create an actual conflict or the appearance of a conflict of interest in the representation of NFL players” is prohibited conduct. This source said the NFLPA would now be looking into Bondarowicz’s ownership of the teams in regard to that regulation.

Bondarowicz said later last week that he had not heard from the NFLPA about the issue. Bondarowicz added that a legal analysis of the NFLPA regulation showed there was a “very remote” chance his ownership in an SIFL team created an actual conflict and that safeguards were in place to monitor against the appearance of a conflict.

In his May 24 email to agents, Bondarowicz wrote, “NASAAR has already held very positive discussions with most of the major player associations” about the formation of the sports agent group. He said last week that he has had discussions with NFLPA and MLB Players Association officials, but not with NHL Players’ Association or National Basketball Players Association officials.

Asked about Bondarowicz’s efforts, MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner wrote, “To my knowledge, we’ve had no discussions with representatives of NASAAR.”

The NFLPA source said union officials were not aware of discussions the group has had with the NFLPA.

CAA SIGNS SCOTT HAMILTON: CAA Sports has signed U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame figure skater and NBC Olympics broadcaster Scott Hamilton for representation.

Hamilton, who won more than 70 skating titles and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, will be represented by a team of agents led by Lis Rudnay. CAA will work to create opportunities for Hamilton in the areas of endorsements, speaking, television and philanthropy, among other things. He was previously without representation.

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

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