Kirk Wright bilked investors, including many current and former NFL players out of at least at least $20 million. He fraudulently provided investors with reports claiming his firm, International Management Associates, had over $180 million in assets. But when he was finally busted, there was less than $500,000 accounted for. In February 2007, Wright was ordered to pay nearly $20 million as part of a default judgment by the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. In March 2007, six current and former players sued the NFL and its union, seeking to recoup $20 million they lost in this fraud scheme. The NFLPA, in response to significant financial losses experienced by several NFL players, began the Financial Advisor Program, a first-of-its-kind program aimed at protecting players against incompetent and fraudulent advisors.
I wrote an article on Kirk Wright in Sports Business Journal: "Pro athletes must use caution to avoid financial runaround" (August 28, 2006). I also used this as a case study in my book, Money Players.
Former Denver Broncos player Steve Atwater was hired by Wright to solicit investors for IMA and also invested $2.7 million of his own money. After learning of Wright's death Atwater told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "It's a tragic deal all around."
Sad story. Hopefully there are some valuable lessons learned here.