Female Sports Agent Kristen Kuliga Earns Respect in Male-Dominated Profession

Jun 22, 2007

When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said recently that players would be held responsible for their conduct, it put added pressure on sports agents. Beyond just getting the best deal for their clients, agents had to be proactive about keeping players in line, or risk overseeing a declining asset.
Such responsibilities have typically been left to male agents in this male-dominated profession. But that’s starting to change. Witness Kristen Kuliga, NFL sports agent and founder of K Sports & Entertainment, LLC.
Kuliga was the first woman to negotiate a starting NFL quarterback’s contract, Doug Flutie. And after negotiating Flutie’s $33 million deal with the San Diego Chargers, Kuliga has gone on to hold the largest roster of NFL players of all female-registered agents. Kuliga also oversees the representation and marketing for NBA and MLB players, as well as musical artists and other celebrities.
In a Question and Answer interview with Sports Litigation Alert, Kuliga gave her opinion on the NFL’s effort to institute a conduct code and other subjects.
How did you get into the business?
I began as an intern after law school at Woolf Associates. I had actually accepted a position with the Army JAG Corps and was interning at Woolf before the JAG job began. The execs at Woolf asked if I would stay so I decided to work there instead of the JAG.
Who has been your biggest influence?
There have been many people who have influenced my career throughout the years. My parents for never treating my sister and I differently from my brother and encouraging us to have the confidence to do whatever career we wanted. The late sports writer Will McDonough who encouraged me to recruit NFL players and pursue the business beyond working with Doug Flutie. And, of course Doug Flutie had the confidence in me to negotiate his NFL contracts.
What are some of the challenges in excelling in a male-dominated business?
It is the business I have always been in so I really do not know the difference. But, I would say gaining others respect as many of the men in the business think that because I am a woman, I do not understand the football business.
Do you represent just players, or coaches, too? If both, can you talk about the potential conflict of interest?
Just players for now, but I have spoken with a number of coaches about representing them. I believe as long as you disclose to both parties that you represent coaches and players, you remove some of the conflict of interest.
How and what point do you intersect with perspective clients?
Depends, if it is a referral from another player, then upon the referral. If it is recruiting rookies, then generally the Spring/Summer before their senior year or during the Fall of their senior year.
What are your thoughts on the NFL’s effort to institute a conduct code?
I look at it as any other profession. If you were arrested as a writer or I was arrested as a lawyer and convicted, we could both potentially lose our jobs. While I do believe that players should be given the benefit of the doubt and are innocent until proven guilty, they do have a public persona and for the marketability of the league and thus, more money to spend on player salaries, there should be a conduct policy in place.
How has the player’s image entered into the equation when negotiating a contract?
This comes into play quite often. Several GM’s first questions are “What is the character of the player” before event they ask about his on-field performance. For the most part, they know what the player can do on the field, it is the off the field character that can help distinguish a player.
How do you feel about owners using private investigators to tail a draft prospect, or even a player?
I believe it violates rights to privacy. At the same time, they are looking to spend millions of dollars on a player. In other businesses, companies extend tremendous amounts of time and money on due diligence and reviewing backgrounds of people they are going to hire or companies they are going to purchase.


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