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Volume 20 No. 45
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Smith’s union-funded trust sees $2M boost

The NFLPA paid Executive Director DeMaurice Smith $2.5 million while the value of his union-funded trust rose $2 million to $8.3 million in the year ended Feb. 28, according to the labor group’s annual report filed with the Department of Labor.

Those figures suggest a compensation package of about $4.5 million, which would be a high for Smith since he took over the NFLPA in 2009. It’s unclear, however, the factors that led to the trust rise.

DeMaurice Smith
The NFLPA did not reply for comment.

“Some of the trust increase could be stock appreciation,” said John Lieberman, a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and past chairman of its entertainment and sports committee. “But it also seems a large contribution was made.”

The trust, known as a grantor or rabbi trust, is funded through the union’s for-profit licensing and merchandise arm, NFL Players. That means the union does not need to detail the

contributions on its annual report, known as an LM-2.

The trust is listed as an asset on the annual report, however, so it is possible to calculate its growth by comparing the figure year to year. After two years at about $6 million, the recent annual report showed a 33 percent jump in the value.

Under the late Gene Upshaw, the union detailed on the annual report how much he was paid by the union and by Players Inc. In the last report filed before his death in 2008, for example, it showed he received $3.4 million from the union and $2.4 million from Players Inc. for his trust. His trust was about $15 million upon his death, and it was paid to his estate. The precise terms of Smith’s trust are unknown.

After Smith won the post in 2009, the union stopped breaking out the financial details in this manner, but did start listing the trust under assets. It grew from $675,000 in his first year to the $8.3 million now. The trust was at $5 million as of Feb. 28, 2014, and rose to $6.24 million by February last year before the big jump in the following 12 months.

The MLB Players Association paid its executive director, Tony Clark, $2.1 million in 2016, according to the union’s LM-2. The National Basketball Players Association in the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, paid its executive director, Michelle Roberts, $1.3 million, according to the group’s most recent LM-2. It’s unclear whether they have trusts, as no trusts are listed under assets or broken out in the reports filed with the Labor Department.