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Volume 21 No. 2

Labor and Agents

Liz Mullen
The National Basketball Players Association has been researching executive search firms to find a new executive director for the union and may make a decision on a firm after the NBA Finals are over, said Jerry Stackhouse, a member of the players’ executive committee.

“We have the names of two or three search firms we are vetting,” Stackhouse said in an interview last week. “It’s a matter of making a decision.”

The NBPA’s executive committee had been holding regular conference calls since Billy Hunter was fired as executive director in February, but the calls slowed during the playoffs. Several members of the executive committee were still playing, and two are in the Finals this week: NBPA secretary-treasurer James Jones plays for Miami, while NBPA vice president Matt Bonner is with San Antonio.

“We are not going to be swayed by public opinion or media opinion.”

Member, NBPA executive committee

Stackhouse said reports that the NBPA was narrowing in on a candidate for the job were false. “We haven’t got a search firm in place; how can there be a leading candidate?” he said.

The New York Daily News reported late last month that former MSG President Steve Mills had emerged as the leading candidate. Mills declined to comment last week.

“Steve is a very qualified candidate, and there are a lot of qualified candidates who will be part of the process when we get to that point,” Stackhouse said. “We understand people want to see things happen and force the issue, but we are not going to be swayed by public opinion or media opinion.”

Although a final decision has not been made, Stackhouse said the NBPA would likely have its annual players meeting in August in Las Vegas. As previously reported, the players had postponed the meeting and were trying to decide whether to hold it in Las Vegas or the Bahamas in either August or September. The NBPA annual meeting is historically held in June and has been held at both locales in recent years, but Stackhouse noted this year was very different from other years after the termination of Hunter.

> IMG AIMS TO EXTEND TSENG’S DEALS: IMG has brought golfer Yani Tseng back into its fold after representing her in 2008 and 2009. She left for her own management firm, but IMG has now renewed its relationship with the No. 5 ranked LPGA Tour player, and its first order of business will be making decisions on whether to extend or modify a number of her existing endorsement deals, said Clarke Jones, IMG senior vice president and managing director of IMG Golf, the Americas.

IMG said its first order of business will be making decisions on whether to extend or modify a number of Tseng’s existing endorsement deals.
Tseng has endorsements with Adams Golf for equipment; Titleist for ball, shoe and glove; and Lacoste for apparel. Additionally, she has deals with Oakley, Rolex, Taiwan Mobile, Audi, Reignwood Pine Valley and Acer Technology.
Jones said roughly half of Tseng’s endorsements expire at the end of 2013 but did not identify which ones.
“She has a fantastic portfolio of partners,” Jones said. As to new deals: “First, we want to get an understanding of her current partners and where they are with their brand and where they are going,” Jones said. “Once we get that sorted out, we will be able to look around the world.”

Tseng previously was an IMG client starting on Jan. 1, 2008, but left on Dec. 31, 2009, for her own management firm. Her management company in Taiwan, Nihao, will still play a role in representing Tseng in that market, but IMG will take the lead in representing her in global deals.

Jones; Carol Su, IMG managing director, golf, Taiwan; and Kevin Hopkins, IMG client manager, will lead her representation at IMG.

Jones said he, Su and others at IMG have been working for more than a year to get Tseng, who won LPGA rookie of the year in 2008 and is a two-time LPGA player of the year (2010, 2011), back as a client. “It’s wonderful to have her back and to be able to employ all of our resources around the world,” he said.

> WASSERMAN SIGNS NBA PROSPECTS: Wasserman Media Group has signed a number of prospects for the NBA draft, including Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gonzaga center/forward Kelly Olynyk and Pittsburgh center/forward Steven Adams, all projected lottery picks. had Caldwell-Pope ranked No. 10, Olynyk No. 11 and Adams No. 12 in its mock draft last week.
Wasserman also has signed Louisville center/forward Gorgui Dieng, Marquette guard Vander Blue, Kansas center Jeff Withey, North Texas forward Tony Mitchell and Detroit guard Ray McCallum.
NBA player agents Arn Tellem, Darren Matsubara, B.J. Armstrong, Thad Foucher, Makhtar Ndiaye and Greg Lawrence will represent the players.

“This compares very favorably to all of our other draft classes,” said Tellem, who is also vice chairman of Wasserman. “We have a diverse group of very talented players from all over the world. They are great prospects and have great character, and I am confident they all will have successful careers.”

> IMPACT SPORTS SIGNS NBA PROSPECTS: Impact Sports has signed a number of prospects for the NBA draft, including San Diego State guard/forward Jamaal Franklin.

Impact also signed Florida State guard Michael Snaer and Florida guard Kenny Boynton.

Agents Brian Elfus and Mitch Frankel will represent the players.

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

Lose most of a category that is commonly a company’s most lucrative, and an overall drop in revenue can be expected.

That is what has happened to the NFL Players Association, whose sponsorship and licensing income dipped below $100 million for the 12 months ended Feb. 28, 2013, according to an analysis of the union’s annual report filed recently with the U.S. Department of Labor. That is down from the $127 million the union took in for the 12 months ended Feb. 28, 2011, the last full year the union reported to the labor department.

The interceding filing was for only a partial year because of the 2011 player lockout. The NFLPA did not have to disclose figures for the lockout period because it was not operating as a union during that time.

The last time the NFLPA reported commercial revenue of less than $100 million for a full year was 2005.

The prevailing reason for the decline: Revenue from Electronic Arts in the most recent 12 months was $2.155 million. Between 2006 and 2011, the NFLPA’s EA revenue averaged $32 million, far and away the biggest sponsor or licensee in those years, often by two- to threefold.

For the eight months covered under the 2012 NFLPA filing, EA income came in at less than $1 million to the NFLPA. So combining that total with the 2013 amount, the NFLPA for a 20-month period brought in less than $3 million from its historically top licensee.

The NFLPA did not return queries seeking comment. Last year, when asked similarly about EA, a spokesman replied he did not wish to answer the question.

It is possible the NFLPA took an upfront payment from EA during the lockout period of March 12-July 25, 2011, to help sustain the players during their battle with the owners. There are no indications the economics of EA sales of its football video games have changed in any way to suggest such a steep drop in royalties.

EA also declined to comment.

Absent the video game money, the most recent annual filing suggests business as usual for the NFLPA. The largest source of income is the NFL itself, which through its licensing and marketing deal with the NFLPA paid the union $44.5 million in the most recent year. That’s nearly half of the $98.6 million in commercial revenue for the 12 months ended Feb. 28, 2013.

Jerseys and trading cards contributed the bulk of the remaining money. Nike paid the union $11.7 million; Topps and Panini America combined paid $22.1 million. Outerstuff, a youth apparel maker, paid the union $4.8 million.

The annual reports, also known as LM-2s, use cash and not accrual accounting, so if a company made a large payment one day past the end of the LM-2 12-month period, it would be reflected next year.

The NFLPA’s annual report provides details of the legal settlement reached earlier this year between the union and the NFL Coaches Association.

The two groups sued each other in 2012, with the NFLCA arguing the union would not let it tap into a bank account totaling $308,509.69, and the union contending the coaches owed the players $650,324.88 in loans the NFLPA had granted.

The associations had been cordial in their relations until February 2012, when the coaches elected a new executive director, David Cornwell, who was at odds with the union leadership.

In February of this year, the parties settled their litigation, but neither side would disclose the terms of the settlement. But according to the NFLPA’s annual report: “The NFLPA reached an agreement with the NFLCA to recover $308,510 and extinguish the remaining $341,490.”

The sum of those two amounts, $650,000, suggests the NFLPA kept the bank account the coaches had been seeking to use but forgave the remainder of the alleged debt.

— Daniel Kaplan