Headline Sports Law

California Hearing Considers Effectiveness Of Athlete Agent Law

Last week, the Select Committee on Sports and Entertainment in the California State Senate held a hearing titled, Protecting Student Athletes from Unscrupulous Athlete Agents at the Los Angeles Coliseum to discuss the state’s athlete agent law known as the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act, and what, if any, changes should be made to the law.  Speakers included former NFL receiver J.J. Stokes, Ramogi Huma of the National College Players Association, former NFL agent Josh Luchs, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, USC vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts, and Marc Isenberg, author of Money Players.

The hearing was a part of California State Senator Kevin de León’s effort to get a new bill passed (it has already passed through the Senate), which he hopes will improve the enforcement of the athlete agent laws created initially by the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act.  Specifically, the new law will force agents who violate its provisions to relinquish any money received or owed if connected to the violation.  Like many athlete agent laws created across the United States, California’s law has never actually been used to charge an agent since its creation in 1996.  A new law may have stricter penalties, but without proper enforcement, who really cares?

Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times recorded some good quotes from former agent Josh Luchs.

Luchs, who in a Sports Illustrated cover story detailed how he paid players early in his career, compared NCAA rules to Prohibition — “As long as you have 1920s Prohibition, you’re going to have bootleggers,” he said — and told De Leon that financial advisors, marketing agents and their representatives, or “runners,” must also be held accountable.

“Everybody is a potential runner — and that includes coaches and family members and players on the team,” Luchs said.

But the best line of the event must have come from LA City Attorney Trutanich when he stated, “If you’re a sports agent, understand the cavalry has mounted.”  I am sure that many of you will believe it when you see it.  The more accurate statement was probably made by David Roberts – “Until there is a situation where an agent is the subject of a major civil award or criminal conviction, it’s not going to stop.””

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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