SMALLER AGENCIES WANT FAIRNESS, EXPLORE UNIONIZATION
Agent fees are about to be cut from 3 percent to 2 percent, resulting in a frustrated sector of the sports agency industry. Mid-sized and smaller firms do not have the same assets as the bigger agencies and simply cannot do things that the bigger agencies can do. With that, the biggest take away from the NFLPA’s Annual Seminar in Indianapolis is that smaller firms want to have the ability to bill practice squad players because they make up a large portion of their rosters, but their concerns are going unrecognized, according to Neil Stratton of ITL.
One solution that has been presented is for the agents to unionize themselves to have a fighting chance against the players association. However, bigger firms have no incentive to unionize and the players association can pull an agent’s certification at any time. Moreover, agents are disposable; there are more than 800 registered agents, and every summer 200 new wide-eyed young professional’s fork over $2,500 to take the test to become certified. And of those 800 agents, veterans are represented by only approximately 200 of them.
NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, challenged the smaller firms to speak up when he said, “If it’s such a big deal, why doesn’t someone volunteer to be a spokesman?” Well, someone did. Arkansas-based Chris Turnage of the mid-sized United Athlete Agency wants to find a solution.
United Athlete Agency have been in the agency business for 30 years and counts Michael Brockers (LA Rams), Charcandrick West (KC Chiefs), and Patrick Lewis (SEA Seahawks) as clients. Chris is a rising prospect in the industry, after a prior career in banking where he was the youngest bank president in Arkansas. He is also an attorney and uses his legal expertise and business experience to form great relation with NFL teams. He has negotiated over 300 million in contract between the NFL, CFL, and his banking career. He is known as hard-edged, no-nonsense type of guy who won’t be pushed around.
The smaller agencies certainly have an up-hill battle to climb, but based on Chris’ background and career success, they have a more than adequate leader.