Colleges Sports Agents

The Wall/Clifton Connect

Recently, I pondered whether it is ethical for a university to hire an AAU coach when that coach is known for advising one of the top upcoming players in the country.  It was based on Baylor University announcing the hiring of Dwon Clifton, the former head coach of D-One Sports (AAU powerhouse).  He has had premier access to John Wall, one of the most recruited and promising youngster in the United States.  Now there is a new, interesting twist to the Clifton/Wall connection; however, this one deals with Dwon’s brother, Brian Clifton.

Brian has been on the bench along with Dwon, coaching John Wall to become one of the top prospects in the country.  Four months ago, he was a licensed sports agent. In the post mentioned at the beginning of this topic, I also thought about how ethical it would be for a sports agency to bring on an AAU coach to help recruiting efforts.  But what about a sports agent becoming an AAU coach?

Gary Parrish of says no can do:

The NCAA’s newly implemented online coaches approval program…features the following question:

Are you a licensed sports agent, runner/recruiter or representative/agent/employee of a sports agency?

Answer “Yes” to that question and you are automatically ineligible to be on the sideline for a summer league/AAU team. There is no gray area. So the only way for Clifton to honestly answer “No” was to withdraw his license, and doing that allowed him to spend the entire summer coaching prospects — just like he did in the summer of 2007, when he still was a licensed agent — and nurturing a relationship with the best prep point guard in the country.

Again I beg the question: ethical?  Become a licensed agent, then withdraw your license only to become licensed again after you get some one-on-one access with a top recruit?  Without assuming anything, this story sounds a little fishy.  To Brian Clifton’s defense, he says that he will not reapply to be an agent once Wall declares for the NBA and that he will not take any handler’s fee from an agent looking to sign Wall up.

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.

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