Headline Recruiting Sports Law

New NFLPA Regulations Will Attempt to Restrict Recruiting by Non-Certified Agents

Two days ago, the NFLPA sent an email to all certified Contract Advisors concerning the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives’s recent approval of amendments to the existing NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors.  The memorandum attached to that email is embedded at the bottom of this post.

The memo advises agents to pay particular attention to Resolution No. 1, which repeals the Junior Rule and prohibits Contract Advisors from “using, employing or entering into any business relationship with an individual to recruit prospective player-clients who is not an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor.”  The Junior Rule should have been repealed immediately after it was established.  The new prohibition sounds great in theory, but appears to be rather difficult to enforce.  And then there is the concern by many agents that the NFLPA may selectively enforce the new prohibition, letting some of the more “connected” agents off the hook in the case of a violation.  The amendments are not effective until June 1, 2012, which gives Certified Contract Advisors some time to terminate any conspicuous written agreements with non-certified recruiters/runners.

The new prohibition may have the largest effect on Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW) based on the company’s business model.  SMWW sells an online, 8-week “Athlete Management Course” for individuals who want to become, or work with, sports agents.  SMWW refers to its Athlete Management Course graduates as “Agent Advisors,” but under the new NFLPA resolution, can these Agent Advisors recruit football players prior to being certified by the NFLPA?  It appears that the answer is conclusively no.  In the past, SMWW offered Agent Advisors the opportunity of teaming up with NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors to recruit new clientele, but under the new NFLPA regulation, that option is no longer possible.  However, Agent Advisors will continue to have the opportunity to work with players after they are signed to a Standard Representation Agreement (SRA) an NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor who is a part of SMWW.  Once SMWW signs a player, it becomes an internal issue, and Agent Advisors can help service clients in-house.  SMWW President Dr. Lynn Lashbrook believes that the new rule will make his company even stronger and more successful, because it will require that Lashbrook is more involved in the recruitment of players.  Lashbrook is confident that he can compete with anyone out there.

There are a total of five resolutions in the embedded memo, below.  A quick note regarding Resolution No. 3 – the existing requirement that individuals applying to be NFLPA Contract Advisors have a post-graduate degree continues to contain a “sufficient negotiating experience” exception.  However, that exception  (which is still rather subjective) has been clarified.  Applicants must have at least seven years of sufficient negotiating experience in order to avoid the post-graduate degree requirement.

2012 Memo to Agents Re Amendments to the Regulations

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.