College Football Players Headline Sports Agents

New University Of North Carolina Agent Policy Is Extremely Limiting

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since Sports Agent Blog reported that many players at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill had been interviewed by the NCAA regarding possible rules violations surrounding gifts and benefits received by players from sports agents.  Part of the fall out from the myriad investigations was that the now deceased Gary Wichard, formerly one of the most prominent football agents, was suspended from acting as an NFLPA Contract Advisor for having impermissible communication with UNC’s Marvin Austin prior to Austin being eligible for the NFL Draft.

The NFLPA suspended Wichard based on his violation of the Junior Rule, which prohibited college football players less than three years removed from high school from having any communication with football agents.  That rule has since been abolished.  However, UNC’s new agent policy, which Sports Agent Blog has received through a trusted source, has an even broader scope.  It seeks to almost entirely prohibit all types of conversations between UNC student-athletes and agents throughout the course of the athletes’ NCAA eligibility.

On June 27, 2012, the UNC Department of Athletics released the UNC Football Program’s Agent Contact Policy to a select number of individuals.

[Document: 2012 UNC Football Program’s Agent Contact Policy]

The highlights of the policy are as follows:

  • Student-athletes are allowed to have in-person meetings with agents only during one specified week in the summer (July 16-20), and the meeting is limited to one hour on campus.
  • Student-athletes may not make phone calls to agents in August.  Starting in September, athletes may only call agents from 7-10pm on Sundays.
  • No electronic communication (email, social media, text) is permitted in August.  Starting in September, student-athletes may only communicate in the aforementioned manner from Sundays-Wednesdays.

The sports agent community believes that UNC is not protecting its student-athletes’ bests interests by implementing the new policy.  One individual associated with an agency stated sarcastically, “basically, [UNC] wants the kids to make decisions off a one hour meeting and some text messages.  What could possibly go wrong?”  That individual also pointed out that UNC’s new policy appears to only affect interactions between student-athletes and NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors and that  financial advisers, marketing representatives, business managers, etc. can continue to run wild and do whatever they want.

Upon hearing that Sports Agent Blog had received a copy of UNC’s new football agent policy, former football agent Josh Luchs tweeted, “‘new agent policy’? I had no idea they had an ‘old agent policy’!”  Time will tell whether any agents take heed and/or notice to this new measure.

The University of North Carolina is not the only institution that has amended its agent policy in 2012.  Earlier this year, the University of Miami unveiled a new football agent policy that aims to restrict all types of communications between student-athletes and agents throughout the entirety of the student-athletes’ eligibility.  Further, the policy is not only limited to communications with agents; the University of Miami explicitly prohibits communications with runners, financial planners, sports marketing representatives, sports public relations firms, brand managers, and employees of any of those described.

UNC Football Agent Policy for 2012

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.