Of contracts and conflicts: basic business in the move from the bush league to the pros.

Author:Mack, Gracian
Position:Advice to young athletes - Moneywise
 
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Pro scouts are casting you as the gridiron's next Galloping Ghost or the hardwood's Hoop Star du Jour. Everyone you meet these days is an agent with the mystical power of getting you the "best dealt contract known to the sportin' life."

Well, hold it right there bucko! Christopher Franklin, a registered investment advisor, warns: "The No. 1 mistake athletes make in moving from amateur to pro is that many don't read and understand the agent/player agreement and, subsequently, the player contract."

The agent interview process is not a game. "It's business," says Franklin from his office at Titan Financial Services in Arlington, Va.

According to Franklin, players who have made it to the "look-see" level can expect an aggressive attack from agents who understand the business as well as from those who don't.

"They are going to wake up in the morning and find a white guy sitting on their mother's front porch. Then they'll go to parties or other social functions and black guys will come up to them with business cards in hand," says Franklin. White or black doesn't matter. "What matters most is respect and finding the most qualified person to represent you," Franklin advises.

Franklin cites four primary areas to consider when you're interviewing agents: Can they get a solid contract? What is their track record (Have they done it before, how long and for whom)? What do you have to pay them? And finally, what do you have in common?

"If you don't address these things at the first step, you're going to come up short at the end of the road," he says.

Okay. You've found your agent and talked to team management and inked the deal. Now you're getting paid more than you ever dreamed. But without the same careful planning and effective execution that you apply to your game, you could lose it all.

Octavius "Ted" Reid III, associate vice president of investments at Dean Witter Reynolds, says financial mistakes commonly made by newly affluent athletes include spending money on depreciating...

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