UPDATE: Often described as one of the most prominent baseball player agents in sports, Casey Close was considered a real “get” for CAA Sports division when he arrived back in April 2006 from IMG when CAA raided several agents from there to set up its new division. So his departure when his 5-year contract expires next month has to be considered a real loss as well. SportsBusiness Daily first broke the news, which I’ve confirmed. Close is best known as the longtime rep to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, and just as there was financial sharing when Close left IMG, so, too, will there be the same arrangement when he leaves CAA. It’s not known where Close is heading. Last year, CAA Sports had quietly removed the baseball division from under Close’s management. But Close still reps the two biggest baseball clients CAA has. Insiders told me last year that CAA tried for a contract extension for Close because the agency didn’t want those most marketable stars to leave with Casey “so they gave him a back room office, which basically amounts to a desk job, to keep the business moving”. UPDATE: Before that, other sources told me, CAA Sports had an exclusive agreement with the New York Yankees to bring corporate sponsorships for the 2009 opening of the new Yankee Stadium. After the end of that agreement, the two companies have remained in business via a non-exclusive deal.
Meanwhile, the relationship between CAA and IMG became embroiled in a federal court battle over the agent poaching that allegedly involved not just client theft but also trade secrets and proprietary information. Starting CAA Sports was agency president Richard Lovett’s ambition because he long hero-worshipped IMG founder Mark McCormack (RIP 2003) and the business-is-war ethos of that sports-modeling-authors-whomever global-management mega-giant. Lovett not only studied every facet of McCormack’s career but dreamed about being as good as McCormack someday. The fact that IMG’s success was founded on its agents acting like vultures who swarm over their prey didn’t bother Lovett one bit because CAA has copied that agenting style since the days of Michael Ovitz. Lovett was the driving force behind CAA’s hiring of three major IMG sports agents, two in football, and one in baseball which was Casey Close.
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