Marc Isenberg, author of Money Players (a fantastic read), wrote a piece last week that discussed summer basketball tournament organizers’ power over NCAA basketball coaches. The organizers not only make nice profits from the tournaments they host, but also from selling contact information of players who enroll to play. Contact information is valuable information, especially when that information is not available to the public.
In a sport like baseball, you can get high school player information from sites like Baseball America’s Prospect Plus Scouting Service (for a small fee). If a high school athlete is on Facebook, you can usually pull his contact information by becoming his friend. It would be shady if a college coach friended a high school recruit on Facebook, but schools have very large University Athletic Associations. I think that an intern in the UAA might be able to friend a recruit under the radar.
But what if there is a top basketball talent that a coach just cannot get information on? That’s when these tournament organizers can make a killing. As Isenberg notes, some coaches refuse to spend a dime in this information. Others spend ruthlessly. And coaches are not the only people spending money on this information.
Contact information is also worth a lot of money to sports agents. The earlier that an agent can connect with a top talent, the better chance he/she has at forging a strong relationship with that player and eventually serving as the player’s agent/advisor. Tournament organizers most certainly find strong clients in agents, who want that information before their competitors gain access to it. Is it illegal? Not unless the tournament organizer promises not to sell players’ contact information. Is it unethical? You be the judge.