SBJ/Jan. 6-12, 2014/Labor and Agents

Liukin, ready for Sochi screen time, signs with Shade Global

Liz Mullen
Shade Global has signed Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast-turned-broadcaster Nastia Liukin for representation in all areas, and is in discussions about extending her multiyear sponsorship deal with Subway.

Sheryl Shade, founder of Shade Global, will represent Liukin, who won five medals, including the gold for all-around individual gymnast, in the 2008 Olympics. Liukin will serve as an analyst and lifestyle reporter for NBC at the Sochi Games next month.

Meanwhile, this month, Liukin will appear in a new Subway commercial with other “famous fans” who endorse the brand, said Paul Bamundo, Subway director of marketing and partnerships. Liukin is in the middle of a multiyear deal, but Subway is in talks with Shade about extending it.

Nastia Liukin will appear in a new Subway spot this month.
“She fits the profile of what we look for in a famous fan,” Bamundo said.

Liukin was born in Moscow and is fluent in both Russian and English. With the Olympics in Sochi and Liukin working as an NBC analyst, Subway is planning to use her heavily in advertising, Bamundo said.

Shade said that she is in talks with four other companies, including a fitness brand and a fashion brand, about potential deals for Liukin. Shade is also in talks with NBC about another deal for Liukin to cover gymnastics leading up to the 2016 Rio Games.

Liukin said that she negotiated her own broadcast deal to cover the Sochi Games.

From 2006 until a year and a half ago, Liukin was represented by PMG SportsEvan Morgenstein. “He did a great job for me, but at the same time I needed to go a different route, so it was just a matter of a new beginning for me,” Liukin said.

After leaving PMG Sports, Liukin was represented for about a year by publicist Diane McNamara, founder of Fire It Up, PR. “Her specialty was PR, and I needed someone to work on my sponsorships and not just PR,” Liukin said.
 
> ACEY UP THEIR SLEEVE: MVP Sports Group, the firm owned by MLB agent Danny Lozano, has hired the Los Angeles Dodgers’ former director of Asian operations, Acey Kohrogi.

Kohrogi is joining Century City, Calif.-based MVP Sports Group as head of Asian operations. During an 18-year career at the Dodgers, Kohrogi, who has long-standing relationships in the Nippon Professional Baseball League and the Korea Baseball Organization, was able to bring several players from Asia who became all-stars in the U.S., including Hideo Nomo, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo.
 
> WINSTON & STRAWN STARTS COLLEGE SPORTS DIVISION: The sports law practice of Winston & Strawn, which is headed by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, has hired Tim Nevius, an attorney who formerly worked in the enforcement division of the NCAA, to start a college sports practice.

Nevius will serve with Winston & Strawn partner David Greenspan as co-chair of the college sports group, which was launched to represent people and organizations involved in disputes with the NCAA. Nevius was involved in investigations of football and basketball programs for five years at the NCAA.

Kessler wrote in an email that he doesn’t find it ironic that he would hire a former NCAA investigator. “Tim is a first-rate lawyer who happened to work in enforcement for the NCAA. As such, he has a unique legal experience which is very attractive to anyone wanting to develop a college sports law practice,” Kessler wrote.

Kessler would not reveal any clients, but stated the firm is looking to represent student athletes, schools, conferences, coaches, athletic directors, media interests and licensing entities. “The only body we categorically would not represent is the NCAA,” Kessler wrote. “Our clients will come from those who are not having their legal rights respected and those who see the need for meaningful reform and change.”

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

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