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Athletic Directors respond to former agent's tell-all

By this point, I’m sure many of you have read the Sports Illustrated interview with former NFL agent Josh Luchs. If you haven’t, it’s a fascinating read.

Over the past six months, the NCAA’s vigilance on the relationship between student-athletes and agents has tightened. The investigation regarding illegal benefits received by former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush brought on a two-year postseason ban and a loss of 30 scholarships for the Trojans.

A little over one month later, the University of North Carolina found itself in a similar investigation and it’s possible that the Tar Heels program could suffer a fate similar to that of USC.

According to Luchs, “agents have been giving kids money for decades,” but only recently has there been a price to pay. As you can imagine, there are a lot of questions on how to deal with this problem. Who gets the blame and the penalties? Who monitors the student-athletes? The list goes on. After all, it’s a large subject to tackle. 

At least some responsibility, if not most, has to lie at the university level with presidents and athletic directors. North Carolina State AD Debbie Yow, who has been an outspoken activist on the agent problem, believes there’s education already in place to warn student-athletes about the dangers of illegally dealing with agents.

“There’s education left and right. There’s abundant information. It’s not a matter of education, it’s a matter of temptation,” Yow told CFT. “It takes tremendous character to say ‘no’ to an agent and go to the university compliance office.”

But responsibility is a two-way street.

“You need to be ready to follow through,” explains Yow. “It’s the responsibility of the administration to look and see who’s getting into games for free.”

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck agrees. “There’s adequate education available for student-athletes, but we can’t ever do enough. We need to follow those [NCAA] rules to a tee. It’s very important that we make sure our players understand that agents don’t follow NCAA rules.”

Ignoring NCAA rules is something to which Luchs openly admits, but justifies “that the schools and the NCAA were making money while the players, many of whom came from poor families, weren’t getting anything but an education, which many of them didn’t take seriously.

Upon hearing that statement, Luck responded bluntly that, “Mr. Luchs is ignorant. He clearly doesn’t understand the importance of higher education or the NCAA.”

“There are a number of student-athletes who star in high-profile sports, but that number is minuscule,” elaborates Yow, who brings up a good point. While Luchs dealt with star players 100 percent of the time, potential pro’s may make up only 5 percent of a university’s student-athletes. For the rest, a paid education is priceless.

It’s also worth more than the $500 or $1,000 in gifts often given by agents. At NC State, student-athletes can apply for financial assistance with the Student Opportunity Fund, which provides assistance for travel, food, necessary purchases and more.

Say what you will about the NCAA, but the tagline “Most of us will be going pro in something other than sports” has validity to it.

However, Yow is not completely against star athletes benefiting from their success, a la Georgia’s A.J. Green. “If a jersey of a particular student-athlete is selling well, then a small percentage of each sale can go to an escrow and then, upon graduation or leaving the university (whichever comes first), the kid gets it.”

Ultimately, according to Yow, there are two scenarios in which student-athletes get involved with agents: they give in to temptation, or they receive benefits without knowing it’s an agent or a runner.

As far as the first scenario, the responsibility must lie with the university to educate the student-athlete about the dangers of dealing with agents, as well as with the student-athletes themselves to decline the benefits. If a student-athlete is “duped” into a fancy dinner or a concert, knowing who to talk to and how to handle the situation can go a long way between reporting an incident and getting ruled permanently ineligible.

As we’ve seen in the past six months, student-athletes and their respective universities are beginning to find that out the hard way. 

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14 Responses to “Athletic Directors respond to former agent's tell-all”
  1. mojopuppy says: Oct 18, 2010 8:20 AM

    There is a very simple solution to this entire mess. A solution that solves many problems at once.
    The NFL should, in the next bargaining agreement, instituted fixed contracts for draft positions. If you are drafted in this slot, you get this amount for this # of years, w/o modification.
    Fixed contracts would substantially reduce the need for rookies to have agents, and thereby reduce the agent / player corruption issue.
    It would also eliminate rookie hold outs.
    Such a policy would also provide more money to players, and less to agents.

  2. JoeG says: Oct 18, 2010 11:49 AM

    That escrow idea is seriously flawed. I don’t know about all Universities out there, but it’s not like the pros where you can walk up to a wall, and pick from 10 different jerseys.
    Usually, the College picks two, and you as the fan get to choose between them.
    This year for Oregon, you get to choose between Kenyon Barner and Darron Thomas.
    Last year it was Jeremiah Masoli or LaMichael James.
    Great for those four, but it’s not like those were the only Ducks to go pro.

  3. edgy1957 says: Oct 18, 2010 12:01 PM

    mojopuppy says:
    There is a very simple solution to this entire mess. A solution that solves many problems at once.
    **********************
    You do realize that 99.99999% of all the NBA rookies have agents, don’t you? Agents do more than just negotiate contracts, they also bring in a legal team goes over the contracts to make sure that there isn’t an extra clause here or there and they also have guys that can help the kid with financial planning but that doesn’t always work out, especially if he rejects their advice OR his career is too short to benefit from it.

  4. jayare says: Oct 18, 2010 12:08 PM

    “If a jersey of a particular student-athlete is selling well, then a small percentage of each sale can go to an escrow and then, upon graduation or leaving the university (whichever comes first), the kid gets it.”
    I’ve long been opposed to paying student-athletes, but maybe Yow is on to something here. Although, I would suggest tweaking it a little. What if schools paid student-athletes a “salary” and put it into an trust account and then the student-athlete could have all of the money ONLY if he/she graduates.
    Of course, this will likely never fly because you’d have to have all schools on board in order to do this. The way things are going (schools cutting sports due to budget cuts), schools will bellyache about not having the funds to sustain a program such as this. Not to mention that schools would have to be fair to all student-athletes and not just football/basketball players.

  5. JimmyY says: Oct 18, 2010 12:45 PM

    BS to the statement these kids don’t know what’s going on. The elite have been recruited since early high school and they surely know the landscape out there so don’t tell me how poorly educated they are about dealing with agents. They know it, their parents know it, they’ve been dealing with the potential for years. The elite recruits have been going to prep schools, tutors to help them get through courses and tests, unsolicitied gifts here and there, no, don’t think these kids are so innocent, ‘fraid not.

  6. Sweepthleg says: Oct 18, 2010 1:07 PM

    “Only 5% of student athletes go pr0″
    This is a misleading statement because we all know that Football and some basketball programs make the money that funds all other athletic teams at Universities. So that 5% that provides the star and drawing power for College sports is infinitely more important than the other 95% in what they bring to the table at Universities.
    We can all agree that the reason Equestrian team members don’t even know where the compliance office is located because nobody wants to pay them! Their sport like a lot of the other 95% sports are a DRAIN on University resources that are generated by more profitable athletic programs (i.e Football and Basketball).
    Stop refering to them as “Student-Athletes” we are talking about Football players that have a shot at going Pro and become very rich who work for free in the only minor league system availalbe to them. The NFL supports the system because it’s free and provides instant stars for it’s league. The NCAA perpetuates the system because it makes BILLIONS of dollars and the players work for FREE.
    So, like Luch I see NO problem with these kids taking money or extra benefits from a system that’s broken to begin with.
    I’m sure the come back argument will be ,”But they recieve a free education and I would’ve killed for that when I was there and it’s FREE”. I’m sure you ask any of those kids if they would rather get paid for playing football instead of the “free education” they will take the money 9 times out of 10.

  7. edgy1957 says: Oct 18, 2010 1:08 PM

    The whole trust account doesn’t work. These guys don’t need money 4 years from now, they need it NOW. You can bet that if the presidents and ADs had their way that they would forfeit it if they transferred so they’d lose out on the money, anyway.
    As I pointed out before, it could be done on a modest $50 per week that could be paid by the university or agents or a combination of the university, agents and sponsors and it would be paid to ALL varsity sports participants.

  8. jsandals9 says: Oct 18, 2010 1:53 PM

    The NCAA is now starting to care because the SEC has been caught and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Everyone knows kids have been getting paid in the south for years but the NCAA has looked the other way.
    To compare USC and UNC is ridiculous. The UNC problem is much worse as the agent runner is a university employee. At USC not one university employee or booster was involved.

  9. edgy1957 says: Oct 18, 2010 2:06 PM

    Sweepthleg says:
    “Only 5% of student athletes go pr0″
    This is a misleading statement because we all know that Football
    ********************
    Actually, it’s not. When you consider that the NFL only affords less than 400 new jobs per year to college players via the draft or free agency and that there aren’t that many more opportunities when you add in the CFL, UFL and all the “arena” leagues, it’s actually very close to 5%, especially when you consider that many of these leagues just rotate talent and they’re pros only because they accept money but they make little money when compared to the guys at the NFL. Let’s not forget that there are 120 FBS and 124 FCS schools and how many guys participate every year. Take away the Ivy League and and you still have a lot of guys that are getting scholarships every year and I can guarantee you that 95% or more of them will never get a tryout or a serious professional league.

  10. Sweepthleg says: Oct 18, 2010 5:18 PM

    @edgy1975
    Well, what you say is true, BUT you missed the entire point of my post which is that the 5% that go pro are the reason we watch College sports they are the impact Football and basketball players that take Universities to BCS bowl games and Final 4s.
    Included in that 95% are swimmers, tennis players, golfers, horsey riders, and other superfluous college athletes that people don’t pay to see. THAT’S THE POINT!
    And the Football players are the ones that this whole discussion is about not all the sports their efforts support throughout their College careers.

  11. edgy1957 says: Oct 18, 2010 7:00 PM

    Sweepthleg says:
    Included in that 95% are swimmers, tennis players, golfers, horsey riders, and other superfluous college athletes that people don’t pay to see. THAT’S THE POINT!
    **********************
    You do realize that many of those that you named are amateur in name only AND they have professional outlets or does the name Tiger Woods, of Stanford, not ring a bell?
    Colorado had a guy sue the NCAA so he could continue to collect money as a skier (good money, I might add) AND play wide receiver and he had to give up the skiing gig because they said “No.” There are a lot more outlets for these people than you think but they don’t bring in the kind of revenue and attention that football does but I can guarantee you that more people go pro in other sports than you think (Soccer, lacrosse, women’s basketball, winter sports, equestrian — you know, the horsey riders — and on and on). Really, you don’t think that these guys do track and field for 10-15 years for nothing, do you?

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