College Football Players Headline Recruiting Sports Agents Sports Law

Jimmy Sexton, Fletcher Smith, And Rick Smith Amongst Leaders Looking To Fix Football Agent Issues

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 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).

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.