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Mississippi The Next State To “Crack Down” On Sports Agents

“If Mississippi ever wins a Heisman trophy, we want to keep it” – Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann

That quote was taken from an article written by Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger, who wrote about a new Mississippi law that will supposedly “provide greater accountability to sports agents…and will bring more responsibility to the recruitment process.”  I am not sure what will take longer – actual positive change to the way that sports agents are regulated or a player in Mississippi winning a Heisman trophy (I hope the Secretary of State realizes that neither a state or team can win the trophy).

I am not a big fan of the new law (are you surprised?).  Here is a list of some changes:

  • Agents have to notify the school before soliciting its athlete, relative, “or anyone living in the same place.”  Typically schools have a policy of requiring agents to notify them before soliciting one of its athlete.  Attaching a potential civil and/or criminal penalty at the state level is uncalled for.  What exactly is the harm in a violation?  I would argue that due to the harmful influences at some schools, it would at times be beneficial to not make it a requirement that the agent provides an advance warning.
  • Agents have to register with the Secretary of State prior to signing a student-athlete.  Gone is the 7-day window that agents used to have to sign the player and then get registered.  This will prohibit many of the smaller agents who would like to at least see if they have a chance at signing someone before forking out money to become registered.
  • Criminal penalty of up to 2 years in prison.  At least it is not Texas jail time (up to 10 years) or Tennessee jail time (up to 6 years), but it is still jail time, and I am not sold that the punishment fits the crime as long as there is any jail time associated with the unwanted acts.
And what about the outright praise of Bus Cook by Mississippi State football head coach Dan Mullen?  Mullen stated,
“I don’t worry about Bus [Cook] trying to illegally contact players or do something wrong because he’s going to do it the right way, and he handles his guy the right way afterward.”
Have you ever heard a college coach so directly support a particular agent in the past (that was not his own agent)?  But go ahead and make all agents notify the school before they solicit that school’s athletes.

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.

2 replies on “Mississippi The Next State To “Crack Down” On Sports Agents”

I do not agree with you Darren and hear is why. I feel like the NCAA lacks accountability and responsibility with sports agents. Young kids idolize these players who perform and they need to set good examples. There should not be any illegal contacting when recruiting these students athletes. This puts the player’s career in jeopardy and gives the school a bad reputation. College athletes are adults so they should act civil and follow the rules. If they break the law, they should do equal time just like anyone else. There should be no exception to athletes.

I agree that if agents are to be punished for an act that also involves the athlete, the athlete deserves to be punished as well…but does Mississippi’s new law do that? I haven’t read anything to suggest so.

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