Business Lessons Turn into Life Lessons for Sports Agent Bill Strickland

“Tonight feels like a homecoming,” said LMU alumnus William “Bill” Strickland ’77 at the beginning of his talk as part of the Hilton Distinguished Entrepreneur Lecture Series.

Bill serves as senior managing partner of Stealth Sports, Stealth SME, an integrated sports, media and entertainment management and consultancy business. He has represented numerous pro athletes including Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Allan Houston, Rasheed Wallace, Daunte Culpepper and Joakim Noah. Bill is one of the most successful business executives and sports agents in the nation as well as the longest tenured African American sports agent in the industry.

Bill considers himself more of a pioneer than an entrepreneur.

“My whole life I’ve felt a social responsibility to help others and to be a role model.”

Humble Beginnings

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bill was already into sports at an early age. Raised by a single mother in a tough neighborhood, he says he developed his sense of determination, resiliency and direction from her. She was “a woman of faith and dignity” who pushed Bill to get an education and go to college, where he attended LMU to play basketball and baseball. A knee injury in his senior year ended his dreams of a career as a pro athlete, and he went on to earn his MBA from UCLA and a JD from Georgetown University.

Highly competitive with a powerful drive to succeed, Bill credits his dire circumstances and early setbacks for preparing him to work with pro athletes.

The Big Leagues

Moving to D.C. to attend Georgetown was a pivotal moment in Bill’s life and self-development. He remembers everybody wanted to be a sports agent in law school so he kept his aspirations quiet and continued to distinguish himself. At the time, D.C. was home to one of the first sports management firms in the nation, ProServ. The company was going through an acquisition and through Bill’s perseverance, he interviewed with both firms and got hired.

“There’s a certain connectivity about life. If you do the right things, good things will come back to you.”

Lessons Learned

Bill offered a few key lessons he’s learned throughout his years as a sports agent. These lessons are applicable to more than the sports industry.

  • Playing sports is not a right but a privilege
  • Agents have to understand value more than talent
  • From a player’s perspective, feeling wanted is more important than the money
  • It helps as an agent if you’re credible and forthright

“I hope you all realize how fortunate you are to be at LMU,” Bill said to the audience at the end of his talk. “Use this opportunity wisely. Unlike the classroom where you have lessons and then get tested, in real life it’s usually the opposite: you get tested and then come the lessons. The real challenge is how you grow during those difficult times.”

The LMU Entrepreneurship Program ranks #14 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015 “Best Graduate Schools” rankings and #23 in the “Best Colleges” ranking.