Jason Millman of HartfordBusiness.com, wrote an interesting article this past week regarding Robinson and Cole’s plan to pursue a sports business practice. I wrote an article a few weeks back on this story, and it seems that as the University of Connecticut’s football team continues to excel, the sports agent business in Connecticut has received considerable attention. Millman reports that an increasing number of agents are eying UConn’s new-found success on the football field. Evidence of this is the sharp increase in agent registrations this year in the state of Connecticut. As of August there were only nine registered student-athlete agents in Connecticut, but four more applications were pending in addition to Robinson and Cole’s plan to enter the business.
The UConn football program has taken off in the past few years. The team won its first Big East title last year, sharing the crown with West Virginia. The Huskies have started their 2009 campaign at 5-0, coming off a blowout victory over Virginia and a road victory against Louisville. Nineteen Huskies have made NFL rosters, and this number should increase. Senior cornerback Darius Butler is expected to be a first-round selection, making him the highest drafted UConn football player ever. I have attended every UConn home game this season and it is clear that the atmosphere for college football is changing in Connecticut. The man behind UConn’s recent success is coach Randy Edsall. I had the opportunity to hear coach Edsall speak earlier this month at a breakfast hosted by the Middletown Chamber of Commerce. Edsall is a protege of New York Giant’s coach Tom Coughlin, having played for Coughlin at Syracuse University and later coached under him at Syracuse, Boston College and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Edsall said it has been hard to compete recruiting-wise with some of the bigger schools, so his philosophy has been to recruit solid players, red shirt them their freshman year and have the opportunity to develop them over five years. So far this has proven effective.
One reason a number of agents are interested in the program’s football team is because it is nearly impossible to break into UConn’s basketball program. Agents believe it will be easier to break into UConn’s football program, and to use those connections as a springboard to the basketball program. Right now appears to be the perfect time for agents to target the UConn football team. Nineteen football players have made NFL rosters in the past five years, led by Alfred Fincher who was selected in the third round. With the recent success of Darius Butler and Donald Brown, these players may be selected in the first or second rounds. Brown has emerged this season as one of the nation’s best rushers, already with 906 yards and 11 touchdowns through just 5 games. Brown could be on the Heisman radar if he keeps these numbers up. More high profile players will be attracted to UConn as they gain national recognition. They will be playing the University of Notre Dame for the next 10 years, where UConn’s home games will be played at Gillette or Giant’s Stadium.
So the time seems right to enter the sports agent business for Robinson and Cole. Leading the way for the firm will be attorney Kevin Henry, who noted that he’s been looking to get into the business since he graduated from college in the mid 1990s, but he knew it would take time to build the proper contacts. Henry stated, “It’s a cutthroat business. The number of perspective clients is small and everyone’s vying for that type of business. As long as I can stay true in terms of what my morals and values are, I don’t have to worry about outside stuff.” Robinson and Cole has all the tools necessary to excel in this business. They have unlimited resources, numerous connections across the state, and a great reputation. If Robinson and Cole plays its cards right, they have the opportunity to have a stronghold on the sports agent business in Connecticut and have first access to the football players coming out of UConn. The state lacks a major sports agency and smaller agencies do not have the resources or connections to compete with Robinson and Cole. It appears that the time is now for agents to aggressively recruit UConn football players. The first agency to build it’s reputation with the program has a great opportunity to seize this market for years to come, but this window may be closing as more and more agents have their eyes on the program. It appears that Robinson and Cole is the front runner as the firm has all the tools necessary to seize this great opportunity.