Local agent Sloane tries to change image presented by crooks
--Arizona Republic Sun Feb. 17, 1980
THE BIG BUCKS of professional sports spawned a word, agent," that was seldom heard little more than a decade ago.
In recent years, few self-respecting athletes would dream of trying to negotiate a professional contract without the aid of an agent.
Almost anyone can qualify as a sports agent. Some are lawyers, others are college students, a few are outright crooks.
Athletes, who previously swallowed their pride while being taken to the cleaners by angst, are now speaking out and going to court.
A few recoup some of their money. More often than not, the agent has run through most of it.
The freewheeling, unscrupulous actions of many sports agents led former Marquette University basketball coach Al McGuire to say "I believe the agents will cause the next scandal in sports."
David Sloane, 27, does not disagree.
Sloane is a sports agent.
"The biggest abuse in this business," said Sloane, who spent five years as an Arizona State University student, "is someone having an agent that negotiates a contract, does the taxes, handles
investments -- everything.
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, that man's going to have a power of attorney (from the athlete), and that's just giving him too much potential for abuse."
Sloane negotiates contracts, period. "For anything else, I advise them to go to specialists," he said. "In the long run, they'll be better off -- and sleep easier at night."
Sloane can tick off agent after agent who has taken advantage of athletes.
Some athletes were left not only penniless but also with huge tax problems.
Sloane's clients are almost exclusively baseball players. There is an important reason.
"To represent a top-flight college football or baseball player, you've got to give him money," says Sloane. "I refuse to do that."
"Some agents slip college kids money and get them cars in the hope of representing them when they graduate.
"They'll come to somebody like a Mark Malone or Bob Kohrs (ASU football players) and say, 'Look, I'll give you $10,000 to sign my contract today.' Then they'll say, 'We'll talk about you paying me back
"I wouldn't give the Lord a dime. If I have to bribe someone or buy somebody to represent them, I want no part of it."
In spite of his self-proclaimed righteous style of doing business, Sloane claims he is "Fat City,"
"I'll make good money this year and for the rest of my career, if I don't blow it," he said.
After serving his apprenticeship under another Arizona State graduate, Gary Walker, at United Development Inc., Sloane branched out on his own in 1976.
"I started with three clients -- all with the Giants," he said. "By the end of the year, I had 25 clients."
"Most came to me on recommendations from other ballplayers. Over the years, I've lost some and gained some. But I've maintained the same style of business."
Sloane said his company, Taurus Sports Associates, earned only $2,400 that first year, and expenses approached $20,000. He also lost money in 1977, broke even in '78 and first turned a profit last
Among his list of 55 clients, past and present, are a dozen former Arizona State athletes, some of whom were handled during his association with Walker.
Sloane said his simple contract, which calls for 2 1/2 percent commission for salaries less than $50,000 and 5 percent for all others, has resulted in few legal hassles between him and clients.
"One of the main reasons is that there is a 60-day cancellation clause," he said. "I've only had to sue three ballplayers. I won one in court. The other two were settled out of court in my favor."
Sloane lists Aug. 16, 1973, as the turning point in his life.
"At the time, I had been programmed to get my degree, go to law school and join my father's company," he recalled.
But on that fateful night, he and a friend decided to drive to Lake Havasu.
The friend was driving, Sloane was sleeping. Between Wikeup and Kingman, the car failed "to negotiate a turn", crashed and caught on fire.
"I woke up as they were lifting me out of a helicopter to deliver me to the hospital," Sloane said.
He suffered a concussion and burns on his hands, face and feet that required three operations. He lost all or parts of four toes.
Sloane's friend was dead.
"That really changed my life," he said. "The accident caused me to realize that I had frittered my life away so far. I had gone to college for five years, gotten decent grades and seldom gone to class.
"I had never been a religious person. I decided I was going to try to do as much for other people as I could. But I had no idea how I would go about it."
Most of his friends at ASU were athletes. Through unsuccessful attempts to place former ASU basketball players James Brown and Mike Hopwood on pro teams, Sloane became a sports agent.
"I know I'm as good as anybody in this business," he said. "I probably could have gone to work for my old man and probably made a million dollars in three or four years.
"But I didn't want that. It was the easy way out."