With agent investigations now taking place at North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, the NCAA is telling us that its investigative team is getting more tips and acting on them now more than ever before.
The NCAA has been inadequately monitoring agent conduct for a quarter of a century.
I’ll estimate that at least 50 college players (between football and basketball) get paid by agents in varying amounts each year. That’s in the form of either payments while they are still eligible and playing or promises or guarantees made while they are still eligible and playing.
That number represents about 20 percent of those drafted each year in the NFL and NBA drafts yet the NCAA catches almost no one.
The NCAA partly deserves the blame for this.
Almost 30 years ago, sports agent David Falk was talking with coaches and commissioners about helping the organization get on the same page with the professional leagues as far as agent regulation has been concerned.
But nothing happened.
Instead, the NCAA has put itself in the position of being reactive instead of proactive. Luck, not a good system, resulted in the NCAA finding out about Dez Bryant and, more recently, UNC’s Marvin Austin.
Had the NCAA aligned itself with the professional sports unions, or even the states that have agent laws that regulate agents, it could have shared resources. It could have been in a better position to catch athletes and agents who make deals. The dirty little secret in the industry is that most high profile players know what agent they are going to be with by November if they are football player or February if they are a basketball player. And that decision isn’t made just by talking to the player’s families.
Everyone already knows that in order to consistently land top players, you have to give money or guarantee money to a college player in order to sign him.
Just like many of the regulating bodies in our government, the NCAA’s agent enforcement division is understaffed and under funded to go up against the machine they are supposed to regulate. The NCAA’s agent enforcement division has seven people in their department. With roughly 250 college athletes getting drafted in the NFL and NBA combined each year, that’s one enforcer for 35 players.
You know when the NCAA should start talking?
When it finally combines forces with the NFL and NBA Players Associations and the state attorneys general to have the enforcement power to better regulate the activity of agents. The next thing to do is to successfully lobby those in Washington for a national agent law.
That’s when NCAA officials should open their mouths to say, “Look at us.”
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