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.
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.
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.
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.