Headline Sports Law

USC Imposes Sanctions On Itself. May Have A Claim Against An Agency.

The effects of our actions have far reaching consequences  This is especially clear when looking at the self-imposed sanctions that USC has adopted with the hope that the NCAA will leave the school alone thereafter.

In 2008, we found out that USC basketball player, O.J. Mayo, had accepted $300,000 from a runner associated with BDA Sports and its agent Calvin Andrews.  BDA lost O.J. Mayo as a client and Calvin Andrews received a 1-year ban from acting as an NBA agent, but other than that, those two parties walked away without any scars.  In fact, 3 BDA clients were taken in the top ten picks of the 2009 draft.  4 BDA clients went in the top 15.  6 in the top 21.  O.J. Mayo did not hurt BDA one bit.

But he did hurt USC, which is not surprising if you understand the rules and regulations surrounding the business of college athletics.  As I discuss in my upcoming piece in the Dartmouth Law Journal, the Uniform Athlete Agents Act has a primary purpose of protecting educational institutions by creating a uniform code of rules and regulations.  Its primary goal is to protect educational institutions’ financial interests against the practices of unscrupulous agents who may jeopardize a student-athlete’s NCAA eligibility, and thereby hurt the educational institution’s sports program. If a sports agent ignores NCAA and UAAA rules and regulations, it can lead to declaring a student-athlete ineligible, or result in an educational institution forfeiting funding.  In this case, O.J. Mayo has already left USC, but one of the sanctions will be forfeiting funding.

Can USC do anything about it?  Should BDA be concerned?  The state of California operates under its variation of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.  It is titled the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act and is governed by California Business and Professions Code Sections 18895 to 18898.97.  A part of Section 18897.8 reads:

(a) Any…college, university, or other educational institution…may bring a civil action for recovery of damages from an athlete agent, if…that institution…is adversely affected by the acts of the athlete agent or of the athlete agent’s representative or employee in violation of this chapter.

An educational institution is presumed to be adversely affected by the acts of an athlete agent or of an athlete agent’s representative or employee in violation of this chapter if, because of those acts, the educational institution, or one or more student athletes admitted to or enrolled in the educational institution, is suspended or disqualified from participation in one or more interscholastic or intercollegiate athletic events by or pursuant to the rules of a state or national federation or association for the promotion and regulation of interscholastic or intercollegiate sports events by or pursuant to the rules of a state or national federation or association for the promotion and regulation of interscholastic or intercollegiate sports, or suffers financial damage, or suffers both suspension or disqualification and financial damage.

As reported yesterday, USC has placed the following sanctions on itself:

  • Banned from the basketball postseason in 2010.
  • Banned from participating in the basketball Pac 10 tournament.
  • Loss of 1 basketball scholarship for this season and next.
  • Limitations on basketball recruiting.
  • Vacating all wins from the 2007-2008 basketball regular season.
  • Returning money to the NCAA that USC received through the Pac 10 Conference based on the school’s participation in the NCAA tournament the year that O.J. Mayo accepted outside funds.

The sanctions are based on O.J. Mayo receiving money from Rodney Guillory, who was linked to Calvin Andrews and BDA in the past.  Could USC take action against either party, using Andrews’ NBPA suspension as proof of a connection?  USC’s basketball program will undoubtedly suffer based on the sanctions it just placed on itself.  I doubt the school would pass up an opportunity to make some of that money back.

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.

One reply on “USC Imposes Sanctions On Itself. May Have A Claim Against An Agency.”

The love triangle between student athletes, universities and sports agents needs to be drastically changed. The system we’re operating under does nothing to penalize agents for bad behavior, but will take away wins and trophies from universities whose players have acted inappropriately.

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