It has recently become a trend for state attorneys general to claim that sports agents will be prosecuted for violating their respective state athlete agent laws. Whether there is anything behind their words remains to be seen. The most recent attorney general to put sports agents on notice is Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
McDaniel said his legislative package for the upcoming legislative session would include a bill with stricter punishment for a sports agent, an athlete’s relative or another third party who negotiates benefits in exchange for an athlete attending a university. The attorney general cited the activities of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s father in seeking $180,000 from Mississippi State if he could steer his son to sign with that school.
“The student athlete’s career can be severely damaged if not destroyed when it comes to light, if the incident is severe enough the school can suffer … but the agent bears little real risk,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel wants to punish anyone acting as an intermediary in such cases by making it a felony punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and as much as six years in prison.
McDaniel said he hopes University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long will help present the bill.
The NCAA has absolutely no power over a third party who negotiates benefits in exchange for a student-athlete’s commitment to attend a university. The NCAA may penalize the student-athlete by limiting his participation in athletic events and the athlete’s school could suffer great ramifications, but the third party gets off unscathed. That is, unless a state like Arkansas has a law on the books that could send the third party to jail for 6-years. The $10,000 fine pales in comparison to the $180,000 figure that Cam Newton’s father was seeking, and might not be enough of a deterrent. 6-years in behind bars – that’s a scary thought.