Sports Law

Newly Passed Oklahoma Law Allows Universities To Sue Agents And Boosters

In light of recent news of an ex-sports agent pleading guilty to violating North Carolina’s sports agent law after he provided thousands of dollars and other improper benefits to three former University of North Carolina football players so they would sign with him, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 425.

This law will allow universities to sue athletics boosters and agents who subject the school and athletics programs to sanctions. In the case of the UNC saga, the court could order the booster/agent to pay damages to the school. If you’re building a legal case with a lawyer, one of the things they’ll be helping you with is figuring out what damages you can sue for and presenting that to a judge.

While the bill doesn’t specifically mention sports, football and basketball programs are major revenue sources for schools across the nation. If schools have sanctions brought upon them, banning them from post season play, there are major implications in terms of lost revenue opportunities from an extra game (in the case of football) and tournaments (for basketball).

Oftentimes, those who donate to athletics programs are fervent alumni or fans looking to give back to the school and support their team. While acting in good faith, sometimes these donations might not be within NCAA compliance. Schools have fundraising arms of their athletics department, such as the Touchdown Club at Oklahoma, which is audited by the university and NCAA. By going through these organizations, donors and boosters can ensure that their donation is within NCAA compliance.

On the agent side, Oklahoma City attorney and sports agent Kelli Masters said this bill will have a good effect. Agents need to be careful when they recruit student-athletes for professional representation, but there are times when there are lapses in judgement. For example, buying a student-athlete’s parents dinner instead of splitting the bill, or even something that seems as minimal as a cup of coffee.

With Oklahoma’s passing of this bill, it will be interesting to see if other states follow suit to protect their public universities.