There might not be a solution to the problem of sports agents providing money and other benefits to student-athletes, but that does not mean that those with power in the business of sports are going to sit on the sidelines and just allow it to continue. Instead, a group of influential people from the NFL, NFLPA, NCAA, government, agent community, universities, Collegiate Coaches Association, and American Football Coaches Association have been meeting to try to come up with some answers. While this discussion only focuses on football, it is certainly a start, and I hope that a similar group will be established for basketball, as well.
The participants in the most recent meeting included (agent names in bold):
- Ray Anderson, NFL, Executive Vice President of Football Operations
- Ron Hill, NFL, Vice President of Football Operations
- Merton Hanks, NFL, Director of Football Operations
- Rich McKay, President, Atlanta Falcons
- Bill Polian, President, Indianapolis Colts
- Arthur McAfee, NFL Players Association, Counsel
- James Guidry, NFL Players Association, Collegiate Affairs Manager
- Grant Teaff, American Football Coaches Association, Executive Director
- Jim Delany, Commissioner, Big Ten Conference
- Mike Slive, Commissioner, Southeastern Conference
- Greg Sankey, Associate Commissioner, Southeastern Conference
- Jeff Hawkins, University of Oregon, Director of Football Operations
- Mike Powell, Texas Secretary of State Office, Managing Attorney
- James Sexton, agent, Athletic Resource Management
- Fletcher Smith, agent, Blueprint Sports Group
- Rick Smith, agent, Priority Sports & Entertainment
- Rachel Newman Baker, NCAA, Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism
- Scott Bearby, NCAA, Interim Vice President of Legal Affairs/General Counsel
- David Berst, NCAA, Vice President for Division I Governance
- Dennis Poppe, NCAA, Vice President for Baseball and Football
- David Price, NCAA, Vice President of Enforcement
- Naima Stevenson, NCAA, Director of Legal Affairs/Assistant General Counsel
Smart agent selections. After doing some research, I was not able to find a single NFLPA disciplinary action against any of the three agents. I like the fact that it is not all white agents, either (Fletcher Smith is black). And the three agents have quite a bit of experience as Contract Advisors. Fletcher Smith currently represents Kelvin Hayden, Darryl Tapp, Antwaan Randle-El, Lofa Tatupu, and Donovan McNabb. Rick Smith currently represents 18 clients including Alan Faneca, Jake Delhomme, and Nate Kaeding. Sexton has over 30 clients (and quite a few coaches) including Michael Oher, DeAngelo Williams, Peyton Hillis, and Tim Tebow.
Joe Schad of ESPN.com reports that this group has discussed the possibility of post-NCAA financial penalties against college players who accept money or other benefits from agents. This would be an interesting and needed shift away from focusing solely on reprimanding agents for providing illegal gifts. With proper education for student-athletes in place, they have no “ignorance excuse” and should also suffer the consequences of possibly tarnishing their collegiate institutions.
Among the penalties being considered are suspensions of up to 8 games in length and financial penalties (fines).