The Best in the Business
The Best in the Business
Priority Sports & Entertainment was founded in 1985, and in the 30+ years the agency has been in business, CEO Mark Bartelstein has earned a reputation for being innovative and forward thinking in his approach to representing professional athletes. The firm has established itself as an industry leader by developing core values of integrity, hard work, and a steadfast resolve to always put their clients first. Priority Sports has received consistent notoriety and acclaim over the years by maintaining a company-wide entrepreneurial spirit that exists within each department –basketball, football, marketing & PR, and the newly founded Coaches, Front Office & Broadcasters division. This approach, which has led to numerous awards and from publications throughout the sports world, has been a consistent part of the culture throughout the history of Priority Sports & Entertainment and has led to constant and steady growth from inception to today.
Based on his familiarity with intricacies of the Collective Bargaining Agreements in both the NFL & the NBA, Mark has helped his clients secure many landmark contracts and is often asked to speak on his experience in these negotiations, as well as the journey that Priority Sports has taken to the top of their industry. Mark graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1984. He and his wife Sheri have four children (Josh, Morgan, Courtney, and Kirby) and reside in Highland Park, Illinois.
Reggie Brown has been with Priority Sports for over 15 years. An NBPA-certified player-agent, Reggie's involvement in negotiations benefits from his many relationships throughout the NBA. Reggie also excels in talent evaluation and the NBA pre-draft process. He has earned a reputation for identifying future NBA players and recruiting potential Priority Sports clients. Reggie coached NCAA college basketball for six years, and is extremely talented in player development at all positions. He works individually with our players to strengthen their overall basketball skills. Reggie graduated from Mississippi Valley State with a Bachelor's degree in physical education and secondary education. Reggie also earned a Master's degree in pedagogy from South Dakota State University. He resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Deryk Gilmore is a certified contract advisor for Priority Sports. Prior to joining the Priority team, Deryk was involved with college athletics for over 11 years working in football as a Recruiting Coordinator and Director of Football Operations in both the Big Ten and Pac Ten conferences. A New York native, Gilmore lettered and played defensive tackle for the Penn State Nittany Lions, a member of the 1986 National Championship Team. After graduating from college, Gilmore went on to the University of Illinois where he began his work in football evaluating and recruiting the top high school players in the country. Developing unique strategies to market high school prospects, Gilmore helped the Illini recruit players that would take Illinois to the first major bowl game in 10 years. Deryk was then hired by the University of Oregon where he led the Ducks to a top 10 recruiting class in football and top 5 class in basketball, their highest ranked classes in the program’s history. Gilmore, known for his creative marketing strategies has been featured in a number of sports publications. Deryk has a Bachelor of Science from Penn State in Agribusiness Management and an MBA in Operations and MS in Sports Marketing from the University of Illinois. He and his wife Camille, live in Atlanta, GA, with their sons Dantae’ and Deion. Deryk and his wife, Camille, were recently profiled in Essence Magazine.
Mike McCartney has been involved in college football and the NFL as a coach, scout and personnel executive for more than 20 years. As the Quarterbacks Coach and Assistant Recruiting Coordinator at Colorado from 1987 through the 1989 season, Mike helped his father, Head Coach Bill McCartney, turn Colorado into a national power before moving on to coach at North Carolina for the 1990 and 1991 seasons. Over the next 6 years, Mike worked as a College and Pro Scout for the Chicago Bears. In 1998, Mike joined the Philadelphia Eagles as their Director of Pro Personnel. During his tenure, Mike was a key contributor in transforming the Eagles from a 3-13 club to a team that was 2 games away from the Super Bowl. As Director of Football Operations for Priority Sports, Mike was the first top-level front-office executive in the NFL to leave the league, during the salary cap era, for a major football representation firm. Mike brings the perspective and contacts of an NFL Scout and Executive which is invaluable to Priority clients in preparation for the NFL Draft and the upcoming NFL season. Mike received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Colorado, and his Master’s in Sports Administration from North Carolina. He and his wife Jenni, reside in Downers Grove, Illinois, with their 3 sons, Nickolas, Justin & Brandon, and daughter Alexa.
As a partner, Rick Smith has played an integral role in the development of Priority Sports & Entertainment. Rick is involved in all aspects of client representation and business operations. Rick brings a unique analytical perspective to all areas of client representation. He is an expert in contract negotiations, and maintains a strong working relationship with every NFL general manager. As an attorney, Rick also reviews the legal issues inherent in all team, endorsement and personal contracts. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Rick received his Law Degree from Northwestern University. He and his wife Julie reside in Highland Park, Illinois, with their two children, Emily and Jared.
Kenny Zuckerman is a veteran agent in the sports industry. He has been in the business for 26 years and is one of the most respected advisors in the game. As President of Athlete Representation and a partner at Priority Sports, he handles all football related issues pertaining to his clients. Kenny has negotiated hundreds of contracts and has successfully managed his new rookie clients through the rigors of the NFL Draft. In fact, Kenny has one of the best track records of helping his clients maximize their draft stock and get drafted higher than expected.
Additionally, Kenny has mastered the media and public relations to give his clients an edge on draft day. His NFL relationships are second to none. ESPN reporter Len Pasquarelli wrote that “Zuckerman is a former college football player and a longtime agent with deep ties and a fat rolodex.”
Most importantly, Kenny is always available for his clients. He answers his phone whenever he is not in a meeting or on a plane and returns calls as soon as possible. His hands on approach provides his clients a secure peace of mind. He is present at All-Star games, the combine and pro-day. He is a relentless worker who leaves no stone unturned. In the end, Kenny’s body-of-work, experience and reputation has elevated him to the top of his game.
He graduated from the University of Arizona, where he lettered and played wide receiver for the Wildcats. He is the founder & president of a non-profit youth tackle football organization in Los Angeles that brings players together from all walks of life. Kenny and his wife, Shani, live in Beverly Hills with their son, Reggie, and daughter, Mickie.
Julie Magrane has worked in the sports marketing industry for over 23 years. Her efforts over 17 years at Priority Sports have resulted in numerous national endorsement opportunities for our clients, as well as countless regional and local deals. She has also cultivated the speaking careers of many of our current and retired clients. Julie is the lead negotiator on our clients’ broadcasting deals and has worked with all the major networks. She has secured unique entertainment opportunities for many of our clients – from acting roles in major motion pictures to lead and cameo roles on hit network and cable TV shows. Equally important, Julie plays a role in our players’ efforts to give back to their communities through charitable programs. Before joining Priority Sports, Julie climbed the ranks of the South Bend Silver Hawks minor league baseball organization, working her way up to Assistant General Manager and managing everything from team marketing to game day operations. Julie attended Purdue University and studied Sports Marketing. She resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Alex joined the marketing team at Priority Sports in early 2011. Prior to joining Priority Sports, he spent 6 years at the NBA in the Entertainment & Marketing group where he focused on spokesperson agreements, player appearances, public relations, and overall player branding. Alex has 10+ years of experience in the sports industry - also working on the sports desk at the New York Times and in the basketball operations department of the New Jersey Nets. In 2008, Alex received his MBA in Sports Management from the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University. He also has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Tabitha Brinkerhoff joined Priority Sports in 2002 as the Director of Client Services. Her efforts are directed toward the day-to-day personal and professional needs of the clients. Tabitha helps with the transition from college sports to professional sports, assisting with the entire process, every step of the way. Tabitha will assist with the logistics of pre-draft training, and then following the draft, also assist with the process of each client getting settled in their new city. Tabitha also plays an integral role in coordinating the promotional commitments associated with spokesperson deals and trading card signings. She has a wide range of duties and will assist with any task – big or small – ensuring that our clients can put all of their efforts and energy into their playing career. Prior to joining Priority Sports, Tabitha lived in New York where she worked at Goldman Sachs and pursued a career in theatre. She received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Before joining Priority Sports, Joel spent 9 years working in various capacities around the game of basketball. As a college player Joel led Butler University to 100 wins and 3 NCAA tournament appearances from 1999-2003, and was named to the Butler All-Century Team. Joel graduated from Butler with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing and then spent several years playing professionally overseas before returning to Butler with a position on the Men’s Basketball staff. He then moved on to University of Iowa, where he became the youngest assistant coach in the Big Ten, focusing on recruiting and player development. Joel’s knowledge of the game along with his ability to evaluate players led him into a television role as color commentator for two years with ESPN before joining the team at Priority in January of 2012. An NBPA-certified player-agent, Joel serves as the Director of Basketball Recruiting at Priority Sports working on player evaluations, free agent contract analysis, and skill development. He resides in downtown Chicago.
Before joining Priority Sports in June of 2012, Zach worked for six seasons in the Basketball Operations Department at the New Jersey Nets, from 2003 through 2009. Leveraged by his knowledge of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kurtin was involved in the team’s Draft preparation, trade evaluation, player contract negotiation and salary cap management, helping guide the Nets to four consecutive playoff appearances during his tenure. He also served as the Nets’ Player Development representative, a role which sought to educate players on their decision-making processes and lifestyle choices away from the basketball court. An NBPA-certified player-agent, Zach received his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated in 2011 with a Master’s in Sports Business from New York University. He currently resides in downtown Chicago.
Andy Shiffman joined Priority Sports after two seasons with the University of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team as a video coordinator and statistical strategist, before practicing as an attorney in Memphis. Andy also worked for the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks. As Priority Sports’ Director of Basketball Operations, Andy utilizes his legal background in drafting and analyzing FIBA arbitration cases. An NBPA-certified player-agent, Andy also oversees the travel accommodations and draft workout scheduling for NBA draft prospects, assists in day-to-day client services, and is heavily involved with statistical analytics, the Draft, and Free Agency. Andy graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. He earned a JD from Marquette University Law School, specializing in sports law. Andy currently resides in downtown Chicago.
Amber joined Priority Sports as marketing coordinator in 2013 to serve as a liaison between the agency’s clients and corporate partners, ensuring athletes successfully meet their goals off the field and court. Prior to joining Priority Sports, Amber spent four years working on NBA and NFL player marketing at an athlete representation firm in Tennessee, where she focused on player branding, endorsement opportunities, coordinating community relations initiatives and events, and creating public relations strategies. Amber earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Tennessee. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Kieran joined Priority Sports in November 2014. An NBPA certified player-agent, Kieran utilizes his basketball and legal background to research, analyze, and draft player contracts. He is involved in all aspects of client representation, including player evaluation, recruiting, NBA Draft preparation, and NBA free agency. Prior to joining Priority, he worked as a collegiate sports attorney for three years, representing colleges and universities, coaches, and student-athletes in NCAA infractions and eligibility cases. Kieran played basketball at the University of Notre Dame, graduating with a degree in American Studies and Economics in 2007. He graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 2010, and was subsequently admitted to the New York State Bar. He currently resides in Downtown Chicago.
Kyle Dolan is Priority’s Director of Football Operations and a Certified Contract Advisor. A licensed attorney, Kyle is relentless in serving clients throughout their careers. His legal background and work experience as an Associate at Latham & Watkins LLP, where he focused his practice on complex commercial transactions, have helped shape his resolute approach to contract negotiations. Kyle ensures that clients never go into a situation unprepared, as he heads Priority’s study of contract analytics and maintains a comprehensive database of all NFL contracts. He also takes pride in his knowledge of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement and devotes himself to providing creative solutions and candid advice for any situation that a client is facing. A native of Syracuse, New York, Kyle attended The Ohio State University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. He then received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago, where he served as President of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. He and his wife Allison reside in Lombard, Illinois, with their son, Peter.
Kristina joined Priority Sports as Marketing and Client Services Coordinator in 2014. She serves as a liaison between the agency and corporate partners for appearances and endorsements, ensuring athletes successfully meet their goals off the field and court. Kristina came to Priority Sports from the Chicago Bears, where she worked in corporate partnership activation. She also spent a season working in ticket sales for the Chicago Bulls. Kristina earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, majoring in Sport Marketing and Management, from Indiana University. She currently resides in downtown Chicago.
Rachel joined Priority Sports as the Communications Coordinator in September of 2014. She facilitates all communication between the media and athletes in order to organize interviews and media obligations for our clients. Rachel uses her experience in public relations and social media to help our agency and athletes improve upon their own personal brands. Prior to joining Priority Sports, Rachel spent four years working for the Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball program. And immediately before joining the Priority team, Rachel spent the summer working with the communications department at the Austin Spurs, the NBA Development League team of the San Antonio Spurs. Rachel earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies at the University of Texas. She currently resides in downtown Chicago.
Aaron joined Priority Sports in May 2013, helping to build the agency’s Coaches, Front Office and Broadcasters division since its inception. As Director of the Coaches, Front Office and Broadcasters division, he works directly with Rick Smith, Ronnie Sanders and the division’s clients to negotiate contracts, identify opportunities for career advancement, and manage day-to-day operations. Aaron earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he currently resides in downtown Chicago.
Brad Ames has been with Priority Sports for the past thirteen years. Brad is certified by the NBPA and FIBA as a player-agent and is involved in all aspects of client representation, specializing in NBA salary and contract research and preparing clients for the NBA draft. Brad also runs our international operations, where we successfully place players with top European and other world-wide teams each year. While researching statistics and promoting clients to NBA teams during contract years and free agency, he maintains contact with all NBA teams throughout the year to find the best fits for players in summer leagues and training camps, as well as continuously positioning our clients for the upcoming draft. In addition, Brad deals with the NBA Development League, from which we have had the most NBA “call-ups” of any agency. Brad graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics. He resides in Chicago, Illinois.
Ben Hartsock brings to Priority Sports first-hand knowledge of the NFL’s inner workings and how to maximize a player’s career. After a successful 10 years playing tight end for 5 NFL teams (Colts, Titans, Falcons, Jets, Panthers), Ben transitioned seamlessly into player representation. Ben graduated magna cum laude from The Ohio State University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. As a member of the Ohio State football team, Ben was a two-time Academic All-American and four-time Academic All-Big Ten winner. After winning a National Championship in 2002, Ben received the Big Ten Medal of Honor.
Ben’s success continued both on and off the field after being drafted #68th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 2004. Throughout his NFL career, Ben experienced the NFL in all facets. He served as team captain, player representative to the NFLPA, and was nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Ben’s first-hand experience on both sides of the NFL table, as player and negotiator, provides a distinct advantage to those players he represents. Ben has played for five NFL head coaches and nine coordinators that went on to become head coaches. In the tight knit NFL community, Ben Hartsock’s reputation and credibility is second to none.
Ben and his wife Amy live near Atlanta, Georgia with their daughters Whitney and Lindsey.
Brian joined Priority Sports in the summer of 2015 as Director of Marketing. His role at Priority is to drive revenue for our family of clients, while finding unique and creative ways to build their brand throughout corporate America. Before coming to Priority, Brian spent three years in IMG’s talent marketing group, where he specialized in negotiating off the field partnerships for their stable of athletes, entertainers, and broadcast personalities - which included two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, a Super Bowl MVP, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, and an American League MVP in baseball. Brian also worked for Octagon and the Detroit Pistons, where he was named their top overall salesperson in only his second season with the team. A native of Michigan and adoptee from South Korea, he received a degree in Business Economics from Brown University and currently resides in downtown Chicago.