How two Birmingham attorneys found their niche in the sports agent world

Belk Bowl 2013 North Carolina Tar Heels vs Cincinnati Bearcats

North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora laughs off a victory shower of Gatorade from his players in the 2013 Belk Bowl. Fedora is one of several coaches who have been represented by Balch BIngham’s Russ Campbell and Patrick Strong.

Alan Alexander
Reporter- Birmingham Business Journal


Russ Campbell and Patrick Strong are two Birmingham attorneys that stand at the intersection of business and the sports world.

The duo, which makes up the Balch Bingham Sports Group that represents a mix of professional and college coaches in a mix of sports, have negotiated more than $200 million in contracts since 2007.

Their combined experienced has made them some of the foremost experts on the coaching carousel– the annual spree of hirings and firings in the coaching world. They have represented a list of clients that includes former University of Alabama head coach Mike Shula and former Auburn University head coach Gene Chizik, among several notable others.

So what does it take to carve out a niche in the sports representation world, where on any given day you may be negotiating a $24 million contract on an NFL owner’s jet or working through the night to see the sunrise over the Manhattan skyline?

Both said it boils down to relationships, which can be both rewarding and gut-wrenching in the high-stakes world of sports.

“We develop a very personal relationship with our clients. The best part is the ability to invest in their lives, get to know them on a very personal basis and stand with them through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Campbell said.

“That same personal relationship also makes the job challenging at times. It’s difficult to sit with a family in their living room while their world falls apart in front of you live on SportsCenter and message boards across the country. For all the private jets and sideline passes, there are just as many gut-wrenching moments that make you thankful you and your family aren’t subjected to the same microscope,” Strong said.

Alan Alexander covers health care, technology and education for the Birmingham Business Journal. Click here to follow him on Twitter.