On Wednesday, I introduced New York City-based contract advisor Eugene Lee of MKT Sports, a long-time friend and ITL client. Eugene, who was featured in a 30 for 30 documentary called The Dotted Line, also recently wrote a book about his experiences, and it’s very good.
I asked him a few questions about the book, and his responses are below.
Many agents’ friendships with college athletes prompt them to go into the agent world. You discuss your relationship with Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis while you both attended Notre Dame. Did this spur your desire to be an agent?
“It really wasn’t Jerome. At the time, he was just a friend. I didn’t get to thinking about being an agent until I was in law school, and got to be friends with football players later while playing pickup basketball with them, and I knew I could really help them. Back then, the industry had a real black eye, and agents were doing whatever it took to sign players. The relationships I developed on the basketball court at Notre Dame were pretty much what prompted me to get into this field, and my desire to stay around the game and compete and make a difference. As I’ve gotten older and there’s a bigger age gap, I feel that responsiblilty a lot more, and as far as being a mentor and a Christian, it’s equivalent to shining light where there’s darkness.”
In the book, you tell the story of your recruitment of Notre Dame’s Deveron Harper, and how when you finally met, it became apparent he had no idea you were Asian. Do you think he would have come to New York City if he’d known you weren’t black?
“Absolutely. Deveron was one of my first and favorite clients, and we had built up such a rapport over the phone over the first couple months that he just expected a black guy. He laughed when I wasn’t, but he’s as colorblind as I am. Absolutely (he would have come). It was just more of a funny time when it came as a complete surprise.”
In the book, you tell the story of one recruiting trip almost foiled because you found yourself covered in Wendy’s chili. How did your love for it develop?
(Chuckles) “I will say that I hadn’t had Wendy’s chili for 20 years (before that story took place), but I can tell you exactly where the love developed. I was at a Panthers game in Dec. 2009, and we had a couple Panthers as clients, and I’ve always prided myself on eating healthy and clean. We were at the game, and there were not many healthy options at the concession stands at the stadiums, but at Ericsson Stadium, they did have Wendy’s chili. So my associate, Dennis, said, ‘hey, get some chili, it’s the healthiest thing available,’ so I said, let me give it a shot. I had some, and it was great, so it became my staple on the road when I wanted to eat healthy. That was the case until about a year ago when my brother-in-law told me, ‘yeah, there’s this article about what they actually put into Wendy’s chili,’ and after that, I’ll never eat Wendy’s chili again (chuckles). So my love of Wendy’s chili has gone by the wayside.”
How do you determine which trips to take your wife on? Do you do this because you spend so little time with her during recruiting?
“Absolutely. I’m on the road quite a bit, and (my) wife really has to make sacrifices, and I’m very appreciative of that. She is the big determinant of what trips she takes. Warm city, fun city, she’s coming. A couple years ago, we went to Memphis. That was an easy sell. Great music, great food, and we went to Graceland. Or if we’re visiting friends in a city, she’ll go, but usually if there’s warm weather, it’s a fun city, there’s good culture, or a there’s a connection with people in the city, she’ll come on the trip.”
More from Eugene on Friday.