Sep
05

What Would You Do…? (#1)

I decided to start a new column that will spark solid dialogue amongst our avid readers here at the blog. It’s entitled “What would you do…?”

The column’s basic purpose is to pose a hypothetical situation related to athlete representation. This will give a chance for some current agents to provide a response. It will also prepare aspiring agents for some of the issues they are likely to face one day should they break into the industry.

Here it goes…

You are approaching the end of the college football recruitment season. You have been heavily recruiting a top prospect who many draft pundits have projected as a mid-to-late first round pick.

You are feeling confident about your efforts thus far and believe you have this guy pretty much locked up. As the signing deadline approaches, your top prospect lets you in on a deep secret that throws everything into a tailspin.

He tells you that he has been taking money and other illegal gifts from another agent (“agent B”) for the past two seasons. But this only scratches the surface.

Now that agent B has found out that “his” prospect is leaning toward signing with you instead, he decides to blackmail the player. Agent B threatens that he will turn the player into the NCAA for taking illegal payments if the player does not sign with him.

While this may seem like a completely asinine thing to do if you are agent B (as it would result in immediate decertification by the NFLPA and other harsh legal ramifications), it is very effective because it puts the player in a catch-22. Out of fear of being reported and having his dirty laundry aired to the public, the player is pressured into signing with agent B because he feels he has no other choice.

Another twist…

The player promises you that if you keep his financial improprieties confidential, he will eventually switch to you after his first contract expires.

What would you do…?

-Matthew Allinson

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren

    I absolutely love the new column.

    This hypo seems like it comes straight out of one of Harlan Coben’s novels. Anyway, as Agent A (the agent who the player actually wants to sign with), I would definitely tell the NCAA about Agent B’s violation. Let me clarify…first, it would be best to confront Agent B. If he will not budge, then it is time to notify the NCAA. It does not matter whether the client is a potential 1st rounder or Mr. Irrelevant. As long as the potential client does not expressly ask me not to divulge the information, I would 100% inform authorities about the violation.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com ErinKane

    Similar issue I’ve heard of in baseball: the terminated agents went and camped out at the player’s house and laid it on thick about past indiscretions until he rehired them. Not much that could be done in that situation because the agents weren’t implicated in the indiscretions. In this situation, though, I’d draft a memo to the NFLPA and show Agent B (we’ll call him Drew) before sending it. He’d be an idiot to go down with the kid. The bottom line is discredit the other agent if you can…less competition down the road. Then ask yourself, though, is this the kind of kid you want to represent?

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren

    Great point. I would not be interested in representing a player who has no problem with violating NCAA regulations. If the player was taking money from anyone (which is in clear violation of NCAA statutes), I would have no interest in signing said player.

  • Russ

    First, I don’t think I would have any sense of loyalty to this kid. He broke the rules, wasted my time and effort, and is someone I would not want to have any dealings with. Second, I would absolutely love to nail Agent B. Get him off the playing field, so to speak. I don’t see any downside to blowing the whistle.

    On the other hand, if I really wanted to sign this kid, I agree with ErinKane. I cannot imagine that Agent B would hang on through threat of disclosure. Even if the investigation took awhile, he is going to get decertified, he will not collect his commission (or have to give it back, per Section 4(B)(5)) . . . his whole career as a contract advisor to the NFLPA is over. The kid will eventually play.

  • Christopher L.

    Its hard.. but I would cut ties with him altogether.. I wouldn’t want to represent him, he has already shown that he isn’t loyal.. Being a newly certified NFL agent, this is a situation that I expect to encounter in the future. Good idea for the new column!!!!!

  • LW

    Remember it’s not just loyalty towards the kid you could potentially be harming, it’s also a reputation you’re picking up. Sure, you turn into someone other Agents don’t want to hold to ransom, but you also become the Agent that ruined a kids career. Other Agents not involved would have a field day anointing you the career killer, showing this case to future kids and steering them away. Real catch-22, cause while you can use it to show you’re an ethical agent, other agents will spin it. Probably best to not have you’re name involved, if reporting it…try to do it anonymously or make other agents aware. Eventually someone else might bite and take it up.

    All in all I have to agree with Christopher L., step away and cut ties. Reporting the Agent, kid might be the ethical move…but it also could easily be spun. “Agent A can’t be trusted, told this in confidence then reported it behind players back.” “Agent A ruined the kids career (if his career didn’t blossom later).”

    Not to mention how common “gifts” are in some of these sports, kids might be scared of signing up with you if they’ve accepted anything over the years.

    Great segment!!

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Chris Lesley

    Tough question. I don’t know enough about the NCAA rules to make a fair judgement, but I would probably cut ties.

  • Drew

    As everyone mentioned great segment, definitely made me think. At first I thought pushing back would be the best course of action and eventually the other agent would back off knowing that he wouldn’t want to go down with this player. Especially because if the agent has the type of money/gifts to entice a first round pick to sign with him I’m guessing he is not a brand new agent who is looking for any client possible. Of course that could be an incorrect assumption on my part but I would guess the other agent is firmly rooted in the industry. After thinking about it for a little while I decided that cutting ties with the player would be the best decision. The player obviously knew what he was doing when he took the money and that should be a big flag to us as the agent that this guy could be a problem down the road. We should let the player go and continue recruiting players in an honest way and who knows maybe after the player’s first contract he will switch to us when the big payday comes.

  • Austin Walton

    In a situation like this you have to factor in what type of kid he is through your own personal dealings. Yes, he made a mistake by accepting gifts, but he was honest and forthright with you about the situation before he signed with you. That is something to take into consideration.

    I agree with ErinKane in regards to writing a memo to the NFLPA about Agent B’s illegal activity with the player. This usually scares off the competing agent because they do not want to risk their careers over one player. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. Furthermore, you can use this information down the road in recruiting efforts of other players that you and agent B are competing for.

    All in all explain to the potential client the ramifications of these actions, that he needs to be totally honest about his dealings because no relationship (business or personal) can work without brutal honesty and integrity.

  • Zak

    Unfortunately this a situation that is more than likely to exist. It would be unrealistic to think that the majority of players don’t recieve illegal benefits. Thats just the way it works. But if I as the agent wanted this player bad enough, or even needed him to make a name for myself, then I would stick by him. He may have made a mistake, but its a mistake that many collegiate athletes make. I would probably contact Agent B first and tell him, “listen the kid wants to sign with me. If you dont accept that, I am going to have to blow the whistle on you, which I do not want to do. Will you back off and respect his wishes? If he doesnt, you blow the whistle. How often have college players lost their eligibility or pro status for taking benefits? Not often. Its hard to prove, and the NCAA is working on protecting the players from snakes that try to bribe players when they are student athletes. What ever happened to Reggie Bush supposedly getting a house for his mom while at SC? He never missed a down. If the other agent wants to ruin himself as well as the player, let him try, but he is more guilty. It wouldnt make sense for Agent B to take everyone down. This proves loyalty towards your client, and you are being honest to the other agent. I know it might not work that easy, but thats my perspective.

  • http://www.myspace.com/mrcarlyle1981 JC

    If you want to keep a solid reputation, the only thing would be to cut ties w/ the player. If you dont do that, do the memo thing, and sign the player (assuming B has backed off), Agent B has now got something over your head. Why damage your good name by “jumping in bed” with two clear rule breakers? You think agent B will just walk away? More like he’ll be quiet till he can blast you for being connected to the whole deal. Besides, the letter is essentially blackmailing Agent B just like he did the young athlete. In the end, you can find another prospect, but you cant find another reputation.

  • Reena

    By giving gifts against NCAA policy, agent B induced fraud by his potential client, hence any contract signed at any point would be easily invalidated. Agent A merely needs to raise this point to agent B and that should be the end of it(if agent B ever wants to work in the business again.)

    The R*gg** B*sh fiasco played this out. Agent B does what is alleged, player signs with agent A. Agent B files suit, Lawyers for player X illustrate the legal exposure that agent B exposes himself to by filing suit(school XYZ goes for damages based on scholarship money and lost TV & bowl revenues based on agent B’s illegal actions.) Agent B drops the suit in a hurry and gets a small settlement that may make him whole yet shields player x and XYZ university from troubling inquiries by ruling bodies that were counting on discovery to make their case aginst above school easier.