Sport Agents Law Undergoing Reforms

 

Laws governing sport agents are back in the news and getting renewed scrutiny.

This comes after Yahoo! Sports revealed recently that multiple NFL agents and financial advisers funneled money through an intermediary to five top Southeastern Conference football stars in violation of state laws and NCAA rules.

The Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA) is at least partially used by 43 states. The UAAA was created at the behest of the NCAA in 2000 as a model state law to govern sports agents. The laws were designed largely to give universities recourse, if agent activity results in NCAA penalties. In most cases, the UAAA requires an agent to register with a state authority, usually the Secretary of State, to be licensed in that state.

Ex-Alabama offensive lineman D.J. Fluker was named as one Southeastern Conference player who received benefits from a sports agent, while in college in violation of NCAA regulations and state law.

Revisions now on the table for consideration are:

  • Alternatives on how the UAAA would more narrowly define an agent;
  • Examination of creating a centralized sport agent registry around the country;
  • Expansion of the law’s coverage to include professional athletes; and 
  • The sharing of more information between states, the NCAA and professional sports’ players associations.

These amendments are being mulled over by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. UAAA committee members will meet Oct. 25-26 to discuss draft proposals. However, final revisions are reportedly at least a year away.

The players who were named as receiving extra benefits in the Yahoo! Report were University of Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, Mississippi State University defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Mississippi State wideout Chad Bumphis. Fluker, Bray and Cox are all in the NFL. Bumphis was recently released by the Miami Dolphins. Couch is a senior starter for the Volunteers this season.

The Yahoo! Sports report of NCAA violations involving the Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State players also exposed just how varied the agent laws are state by state and the inconsistencies in enforcement.

In fact, despite having the sport agent law at their disposal more than half of the states had never imposed any penalties, the Associated Press reported in 2010. The same was true of the Federal Trade Commission, which in 2004 was given oversight authority of sports agents by the U.S. Congress.

Many experts thought the sport agents law was right the first time. It wasn’t.

Changes are long overdue that will keep the good guys in business and the bad guys out. Universities must be protected from agents and students who knowingly do things that are wrong, while at the same time better education is needed for student-athletes who want to do the right thing.

For more resources, for example, on sport agents dos and don’ts and a Q&A on the current UAAA law, check out the NCAA website here.

Dr. Fred Cromartie, the Academy’s Director of Doctoral Studies, can be reached at cromarti@ussa.edu.

 

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