College Football Players Contract Negotiation NFL Players Recruiting Sports Agents

Upshaw: New Recruiting Rules?

Gene Upshaw, exec. director of the NFLPA, has recently stated his desire to change the rules on agents recruiting of college football players. Currently, agents are not able to sign a player or give a player anything of monetary value without that player losing his/her NCAA eligibility, but there are no rules against an agent making contact with such player. Mr. Upshaw wants to change it so that all contact must be avoided until a player declares himself for the NFL draft [Upshaw to propose new rule to control agents].

I am not surprised to see this news coming shortly after new developments in the Reggie Bush scandal. The problem is that those being investigated for giving gifts to Reggie Bush would not fall under the class of people regulated by the NFLPA. Agents that represent players in contract talks are bound by the NFLPA’s regulations, but financial advisors and marketing representatives are not [NFLPA Might Restrict Agents]. How then would Gene Upshaw’s new rule effectively prevent situations like the Reggie Bush scandal from occurring again in the future? Richard Berthelsen, the NFLPA’s general counsel wants to make each player’s agent responsible for any benefits given to a player through a 3rd party (i.e. Joel Segal taking the blame for allowing Reggie Bush to receive money) or just extend the NFLPA’s rules to govern activities of marketing representatives (makes more sense).

Currently, discussions are being held solely within the NFLPA. says that league insiders find the proposal to be a bad idea [Sept 17, 2006].  Personally, I think it is a great idea. I recommend e-mailing the Executive Department of the NFLPA asking them to choose to follow their initiative to govern activities of marketing representatives.

A couple of issues that I have:

1. What will be the enforcement mechanism? We cannot stop agents from breaking current NCAA rules. How can we expect agents to be punished when breaking a new rule of “no contact until draft committed?”

2. What will the penalty be if convicted of approaching an athlete that has not yet declared for the NFL draft?

3. How would putting the blame on a player’s contract advisor for a marketing representatives action fix any current problem, and wouldn’t that only complicate matters further?

[tags]gene upshaw, nfl, nflpa, football, contract, advisor, sports agent, agent, sport agent, reggie bush[/tags]

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.