ITS NO SECRET, AGENTS: Its getting harder to be just a small, golf-oriented athlete representative. Once you get good at it, bigger companies want to swallow you up.
That can be a huge financial boon, and it appears thats what has happened to Signature Sports Group, the agency run by Tom Lehmans brother Jim. Signature has been bought by SFX, one of perhaps three companies that can legitimately claim to rival International Management Group as representatives of golfers and a varied group of other entertainers, from rock bands to comedians to classical musicians.
Jim Lehman, one of the most respected agents in golf, represents his brother and 29 other players, including Larry Mize, Tim Herron and Rosie Jones.
SFX, based in New York City, is accustomed to swallowing up smaller-but-profitable agencies. In 1998, SFX bought the Marquee Group, the Washington, D.C. agency that counted John Daly among its clients. John Mascatello, Marquees former chief, has stayed with SFX in its golf division.
See if you can follow this complicated family tree, and youll get some idea how powerful SFX is: SFX is a subsidiary of Clear Channel Worldwide (NYSE: CCU), the communications giant. Within SFX, Signature will be absorbed into the SFX Sports Group, which represents Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Pedro Martinez. SFX also has theatrical, motor sports, music and family entertainment divisions. According to SFX, more than 62 million people saw its events last year.
Other recent big agency gobble-ups: advertising and public relations giant Interpublic Group, through its Octagon division, bought (and maintained as it is) Pros Inc. (representatives of Davis Love III, Justin Leonard and others) in 1999; and Gaylord Entertainment Co., the big Nashville conglomerate, bought Cornerstone Sports Inc. (Mark Calcavecchia, Ryuji Imada, Rocco Mediate and others) the same year.