Making an Industry Personal: The TPG Sports Group’s Sports Agent School

This article is powered by the SMU Sport Management Program.

By: Tyler Endebrock, @tjendebrock

Pete Philo, Owner of TPG Sports Group, speaking to the audience about contract negotiations. Photo via TPG

Pete Philo, Owner of TPG Sports Group, speaking to the audience about contract negotiations. Photo via TPG

TPG Sports Group’s 2016 Sports Agent School was a weekend full of networking, teaching, and learning from some of the most powerful sports agents, both in boutique and “conglomerate” type agencies, who represent athletes in multiple sports. Representation for the likes of Rudy Gobert, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Darren McFadden, Felix Hernandez, Dragan Bender, Baron Davis, and Manu Ginobli, gave their views on the business, and the ins-and-outs of contract negotiation, as well as what it is like to balance being an agent with having a family.

The start of the two-day event took place with a networking mixer at a nearby restaurant. There, attendees could speak with other attendees, agents, and the owner of TPG Sports Group, Pete Philo. Philo, a former basketball player, scout, and NBA executive made it a point to speak with each and every attendee at some point during the weekend.

“Our goal at TPG is to educate and connect the future industry leaders of tomorrow,” said Philo. “To have all of these ultra-successful sports agents under one roof at the same time, all very open and giving, is something that I cherish and believe is very special.”

Fran Fraschilla, former college basketball coach and current ESPN Analyst. Photo via TPG

Fran Fraschilla, former college basketball coach and current ESPN Analyst. Photo via TPG

With former college basketball coach and current ESPN analyst, Fran Fraschilla, serving as the event's moderator, day one began with a panel focused on introductory athlete management. Before the lunch break, attendees were able to hear from two more panels on, “Successfully Representing An Athlete: Creating Opportunities for your Client,” and “Recruiting Talent and the Importance of Relationships."

A common theme throughout the day was the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people and realizing that in order to do the best job for your client, having help is okay. 

“I’ve surrounded myself with people who are really, really good at certain tasks that I know I’m not perfect at,” stated Lou Nero, Senior Client Manager of Baseball, Octagon. “It’s recognizing who can get the job done to the highest level at all times, and if it’s not you, understand what your weaknesses are and fill in that void with a partner who can fill it in at a higher level than you could imagine yourself doing it.”

The second, and final day of the conference, offered two breakout sessions titled, “Path to Agency” and “Contract Negotiation,” before the final panel of the weekend, “Building an Agency.”  In a world where starting your own agency has become more and more difficult, these final sessions were meant to set the record straight and show those looking to get into the business that it isn't all flashing lights and diamond rings.

Sports Agent School provided a tailored experience for me that taught me it’s not all about the opportunity of the lifetime, but the lifetime of the opportunity.
— Ryan McGinty

For those attending, The Sports Agent School offered two ticket packages: the regular Sports Agent School experience and the all-access Sports Agent School experience. All-access attendees were given extra networking opportunities, one-on-one sessions with the agents, and a mock presentation as if they were trying to close the deal with a real NBA athlete.

One all-access attendee, Timothy Maroder, said, “I wasn't sure if the all-access experience would be worth it at first. However, it turned out to be a wonderful experience where I met very successful agents, as well as like-minded young professionals. On top of the great networking that this event provided, I was able to learn valuable information on the industry I hope to have a career in.”

The recruiting pitch round, featuring one team trying to recruit John Wall. Photo via TPG

The recruiting pitch round, featuring one team trying to recruit John Wall. Photo via TPG

One perk for the all-access attendees was to have an exclusive interaction with the speakers. In a room of about fifteen attendees, four agents, a former general manager, a former executive, and a current international head coach, the information shared was geared towards telling cautionary tales of the agent business. 

All-access attendee Khadija Segura gave her thoughts, saying, “As a recent graduate eager to break barriers in sport industry as an aspirating agent, I learned a lot along with networking with some influential people. The atmosphere was one I will never forget.”

In an industry often maligned by negative perceptions and bad reputations, Sports Agent School was successful in bringing about a positive two days in which those in the industry gave back to those looking to break in, and thats something TPG Sports Group should be proud of.

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