Relativity Sports brings in former Wasserman COO Swartz
Swartz will report to Happy Walters, CEO of Relativity Sports and co-COO of Relativity Media. Swartz was most recently managing partner of Diamond Ridge Ventures, an investment fund that provides capital for sports, events and sports media ventures. Before that, he served as COO of Wasserman Media Group. Swartz, who started in his position on April 30, will run the day-to-day operations of the sports group and oversee its growth strategy.
“This is an opportunity I could not pass up,” he said.
Swartz has known Walters for many years, and said that he has been impressed with the veteran agents that Relativity Sports has brought on in the last year.
Relativity launched its sports division in July by acquiring the former SFX Baseball practice, led by MLB agent Mark Pieper, and the former Maximum Sports Management football agency, led by NFL agent Eugene Parker. In February, Relativity Sports hired NBA agent Dan Fegan, formerly of Lagardère Unlimited, to head its basketball player representation division.
Swartz also said Relativity Media’s role as a major producer of films and television shows, as well as other entertainment content, and the potential entertainment opportunities it provides for Relativity’s athlete clients, is intriguing to him.
“The platform Relativity Media has built, [when combined with] the sports group … puts it on the leading edge of agencies in the world and puts it, frankly, at a competitive advantage to its peers,” Swartz said. “We don’t have to borrow someone else’s platform; it is a platform we can avail ourselves of in-house. I don’t know how many other firms, groups or agencies that are out there can say the same thing.”
Relativity Sports will continue to make acquisitions, Swartz said, but he declined to say what type of acquisitions it was targeting.
“We are going to look at all the typical suite of services and products and distribution that a full-service agency can offer, and we will be selective about which opportunities we will pursue,” he said.
> CAA SIGNS CAL RIPKEN JR: Creative Artists Agency has signed baseball hall-of-famer Cal Ripken Jr. for representation in all areas.
Ripken will be represented by a team of agents at CAA, led by television and broadcast agent Andy Elkin. Ripken is now a television analyst for Turner Sports’ MLB coverage and co-host with his brother, Bill Ripken, of a weekly radio program on Sirius Radio.
Ripken was represented by 16W Marketing and will continue to have an ownership stake in The Experts Network, an interactive digital sports group formed and owned by 16W partners and founders Frank Vuono and Steve Rosner as well as agency clients Howie Long, Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms and Nick Faldo.
While it was not clear why Ripken is switching firms, Rosner said last week that 16W Marketing is “very, very proud of the work we did for Cal over the eight years we represented him.”
“Even though he was not on the field, you could arguably say he was one of the top five most marketable baseball personalities in the game over that period of time,” Rosner said. “Frank and I wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him through The Experts Network.”
> AGENT FOR ELAM?: Safety Matt Elam, who was selected with the 32nd pick of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens, will decide whether to hire a contract agent in the next two to four weeks, said Ashley Kerns, Elam’s marketing agent and publicist.
“It’s probable he will have a [NFL Players Association] certified contract adviser,” Kerns said.
Elam, an All-American out of the University of Florida, is the brother of free agent safety Abe Elam and was the only player selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft without a contract agent.
Kerns founded Atlanta-based Kerns Marketing and Management and represents both Elam brothers, as well as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, for off-the-field work.
Matt Elam did not have any endorsement deals as of early last week, but was close to signing agreements with memorabilia and shoe and apparel companies, Kerns said.