On March 16, 2010, I received the following message on LinkedIn:
Hey Darren – love to hear more about your sports agent blog…..Working with almost every agent now, and O-D Life is providing an agent analysis for kids coming out of school so that they arent taken advantage or risk eligibility a-la-Dez Bryant.
I was skeptical about the whole “Working with almost every agent now” line, but I couldn’t argue with someone who said that he has athletes’ best interests in mind. That was my first introduction to Matt Whittier and his company, O-D Life. Today, I went through my email archives and found the following statements made by others about Matt Whittier and O-D Life:
- Whittier has stated that he loves Drew Rosenhaus and they work together all the time.
- While they claim to help players become aware of which agents are reputable, and which are dishonorable, Whittier has stated that there are only about 30 agents they would trust with his guys, and the number is shrinking. They steer their players towards them, but doesn’t actually choose the agents for them.
- College coaches work for them at their camps and are paid by them.
- It is a team of four individuals.
- Whittier says that they have worked with the NCAA and the NFL every step of the way.
- Dez Bryant lived with Matt for a week at some point in Dez’s college career, and Matt tried to help Dez with his agent, but Dez didn’t listen and did what he wanted to do.
- Whittier has stated that he has agents lined up to represent their players once they advise their players to fire their agents, because he doesn’t think the agent is doing enough.
If all bullet points are true, then it sounds like football may have something that rivals basketball’s AAU organizations in terms of influence with young players. It also sounds like something the NCAA has been trying to fight quite a battle against recently: Student-athletes receiving benefits for free.
I am not the only one who has been the recipient of information concerning O-D Life. Last week, George Dohrmann of SI.com revealed information about Whittier and O-D Life.
Over the past five years, the NCAA and its member schools have seen a spike in the number of companies and individuals approaching star football players. Agents were once the lone concern, but now financial advisors and marketing representatives, former players and coaches, and even fitness trainers are courting young players. They share the same motivation as the agents — to profit on a star athlete’s future — but not the notoriety or the infamy.
These individuals are the source of much of the corruption in college football today, and are at the center of NCAA investigations underway at schools such as North Carolina and Georgia, as well as probes at other schools that are expected to be made public in the coming weeks.
In an e-mail sent out to at least one agent earlier this year, Whittier said he would like the agent to be among those he recommended to players. “No need to fill anything out,” he wrote. In a later e-mail, he proposed that O-D Life would get half (1.5 percent) of the agent’s commission on any of the referred players he signed.