SBJ/Oct. 14-20, 2013/Labor and Agents

Firms get more employees certified after change in NFL rules

Liz Mullen
A year after the NFL Players Association passed the “runner rule,” marketing agents and other employees at several major NFL player representation firms, including Rosenhaus Sports Representation, SportsTrust Advisors, Athletes First and Relativity Sports, were certified by the union.

The rule prohibits anyone but an NFLPA-certified contract adviser from recruiting NFL players and draft prospects. The rule went into effect June 1, 2012. After that, contract agents could not bring marketing agents, or any other employees who were not certified, to meetings to recruit new clients.

But over the summer, several marketing agents and other employees of NFL representation firms were certified and can now participate in recruiting NFL players and future draft prospects.

Those employees include Robert Bailey, longtime marketing representative and president of Rosenhaus Sports; Kevin McGuire, SportsTrust Advisors vice president of marketing; and Todd Sermersheim, vice president of sales at the football division of Relativity Sports. At Athletes First, Ryan Williams, vice president of marketing, and Carmen Wallace, director of research and promotions, were certified by the NFLPA.

“If you want your guys to help you with recruiting, they have to become certified,” said Drew Rosenhaus, founder of Rosenhaus Sports. “That is something we got done with Robert Bailey.”

Rosenhaus added that Michael Katz and Jason Katz, other longtime Rosenhaus Sports employees who are involved in client services, were also certified.

“You can’t spend a lot of time recruiting,” Rosenhaus said. “You have to have people assist you with that, and the only way to do that is to get them certified as NFLPA contract advisers.”

NFL agent Pat Dye Jr., president of SportsTrust Advisors, texted, “I did get our Vice President of Marketing [McGuire] certified. Otherwise he would not be able to participate in recruiting presentations outside our offices, which is where 90% of these presentations take place.”

Roosevelt Barnes, partner in Relativity Sports, said Sermersheim, longtime client services manager Tory Dandy and his son, Jovan Barnes, all applied and were certified by the NFLPA this summer. “It’s the only way they could talk to our clients,” Barnes said.

The runner rule replaced the “junior rule,” which prevented NFLPA-certified agents from recruiting underclassmen.

Agents were glad to be rid of the junior rule, which they said put them at a disadvantage with financial advisers and marketing agents, who are not required to follow NFLPA rules, as well as with certified contract advisers who were willing to break the junior rule. But agents said the runner rule posed a new problem. It made it difficult, if not impossible, to compete with agents from pure marketing agencies when it came to recruiting NFL players and draft prospects for marketing work, as well as playing contract work.

This year, there are 192 new agents who passed the NFLPA’s agent test, which was administered in July, according to Mark Levin, NFLPA director of salary cap and agent administration. That number represents 73 percent of the 263 applicants who took the test. Typically between 65 percent and 75 percent of the people who take the test pass, Levin said.

The number of applicants taking the test increased this year from 230 to 263.

Before this year’s agent certification process, there were 715 certified agents.

Not all of the major NFL representation practices had employees apply to be certified. For example, the football division of CAA Sports and NFL player rep firm Sportstars did not.

“We have a full-time, paid marketing department,” said Alan Herman, founder of Sportstars, which employs nine NFLPA-certifed agents, in an email. “They don’t recruit.”

> IMG SIGNS KAEPERNICK: IMG has signed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for marketing and endorsement work.

IMG Vice President Carlos Fleming will lead the team of IMG agents representing Kaepernick.

XAM Sports, which had represented Kaepernick for marketing and endorsements, will represent him on his playing contract.

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

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