Kristen Kuliga JD '94 is dismantling gender barriers without even trying.
"It really isn't an unfriendly environment to women," the National Football League agent says of her chosen field. "It's just that there aren't too many doing it." Out of roughly 1,150 agents registered with the NFL Players Association, only 30 are women, Kuliga says, and only a few have actual clients in the NFL-"and I'm one of them."
Kuliga is the president and CEO of K Sports & Entertainment LLC, a Boston-based sports agency and marketing firm with a multi-sport client list that includes former quarterback Doug Flutie and current and past New England Patriots players Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel.
Sports were always in her blood: Kuliga's father was a high school athletics director, and Kuliga ran track and did gymnastics while in high school. "I think just being around sports my whole life helped attract me to a career in sports," she says. "Competing helped foster the drive and confidence to keep moving forward in my career."
While at Suffolk Law, Kuliga explored many career opportunities, from civil litigation at a small partnership to a summer honors program at the Justice Department. After her second year, Kuliga began an internship at Woolf Associates, the former Boston sports agency that represented such Boston sports luminaries as Larry Bird and Carl Yastrzemski. At the end of a year working on contracts and event appearances, Woolf offered her a full-time job, and over the next six years Kuliga handled everything from selling sponsorships to negotiating contracts.
But it was Kuliga's work with quarterback Flutie that launched her new career. While at Woolf, she helped establish the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism and helped renegotiate Flutie's contract with the Buffalo Bills. "I was also part of the team to put together Flutie Flakes," she says with pride.
When his Woolf agent left to work for the Patriots, "Flutie decided to stay with me," says Kuliga. "So I got my NFL certification [through the Players Association] and became an agent." In 2001, with client and certification in hand, she started up K Sports & Entertainment, putting her fledgling company on the map by landing Flutie a $33 million contract with the San Diego Chargers. The following year, after the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, several players looked to Kuliga for endorsements and advertising. With Patriots mainstays like Adam Vinatieri and Richard Seymour enlisting Kuliga's services, K Sports & Entertainment was on its way.
Being a woman in a male-dominated field has been nothing but a positive experience for Kuliga. "I have never been treated with disrespect from teams, general managers, or scouts," says the Assonet, Massachusetts, native, adding that her gender has even occasionally served as an asset: "Players are used to dealing with men 24 hours every day, so it is something different."
Kuliga is now looking to grow K's events division and perhaps expand into the music business through her work with celebrity service company Paid Inc., whose clients include Aerosmith and Patti LaBelle. In the meantime she stays connected to her alma mater, teaching about the history and structure of the collective bargaining agreement as a member of the adjunct faculty. But it's her day-to-day agent duties that keep Kuliga the most vitalized.
"I like the satisfaction of finalizing a deal that satisfies the player," she says. Which, in turn, makes for a pretty satisfying career.
- Dan Tobin
ALUMNI PROFILESPaul Cherecwich Jr.