Big players join CAA Sports team

Nuchow, Rone, Levine are tapped to lead division

After venturing into the sports representation game last year, CAA now has three captains to head its rookie team.

Mandalay Sports Entertainment president Howard Nuchow, Fox Sports Networks executive vp David Rone and Van Wagner Sports Group president Michael Levine will head CAA Sports, the agency said Monday.

The move coincides with CAA's ongoing talks to acquire the blue-chip practice run by Leon Rose, whose clients include NBA stars LeBron James and Allen Iverson. In the past year, CAA has lured a handful of power sports agents, including Tom Condon and Casey Close, to its stable.

In leading CAA Sports, the new troika will work closely with football agents Condon and Ben Dogra, baseball rep Close and hockey agents Pat Brisson and JP Barry while foraying into broadcast rights, corporate marketing initiatives and sports properties for sales and sponsorship opportunities.

CAA president Richard Lovett dubbed Nuchow, Rone and Levine "proven leaders and a natural match for CAA's culture of collaboration." He added, "They have exceptional reputations within the sports industry and have been friends with one another for a long time. Their areas of expertise complement not only each other but also the success of our athlete-representation business."

CAA Sports reps more than 350 athletes, including Super Bowl-bound quarterback Peyton Manning, baseball slugger Ryan Howard and the NHL's leading scorer, Sidney Crosby. In addition to brokering on-field deals, the agency is particularly focused on exploiting ancillary opportunities for athletes, including licensing, endorsements, speaking engagements and video games.

The agency also garnered headlines this month when client and tabloid fixture David Beckham signed with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy.

"What CAA is doing is recognizing that sports is an entertainment business," said Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman and CEO Peter Guber, who is losing his sports division topper Nuchow to CAA. "The idea of the coalescing of sports, TV, movies and new media is a rich and robust way of looking at the entertainment business."

Nuchow was the first employee of Mandalay Sports Entertainment, which owns and manages professional sports franchises nationwide, including minor-league affliates of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

"When I joined (Mandalay) in 1997, it was a small company that we grew to become a major player and perhaps even changed the way people viewed the industry due largely to the unique sports and entertainment initiatives we developed," said Nuchow, who joins CAA on Feb. 1 and will be based in Los Angeles. Before Mandalay, he worked for the NBA's New Jersey Nets, the Walt Disney Co. and the Chicago law firm of Rudnick & Wolfe.

Levine segued to CAA Sports on Monday and is based in New York, while Rone begins Feb. 1 and will be based in Los Angeles.

During his tenure at Van Wagner, Levine added more than 100 new Major League Baseball, NBA and NCAA basketball and football teams to the company's roster and sold branded goal-post nets at 55 Division 1-A schools exclusively to Allstate. Before Van Wagner, he held posts at Sportscapsule Inc., SFX Sports Group, Athletes and Artists and the Marquee Group.

Rone, who also serves as general manager of Fox College Sports, was responsible for the strategic direction, financial analysis, negotiation and relationship management of TV rights from 49 MLB, NBA and NHL teams. He oversaw FSN's relationships with such major collegiate conferences as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Pac-10.