NCAA SPORTS Bill would penalize predator boosters

Rogue agents who entice collegiate athletes with money and gifts

are under attack, and now a state lawmaker wants to add another

predator to the sports most-wanted list.

State Rep. Dan Dodd, D-Hebron, introduced legislation yesterday

that would allow the Ohio attorney general to recover money or

damages from unscrupulous boosters and others who cause an athlete

to break

NCAA rules.

“I believe this legislation is necessary to protect our

institutions of higher education from bad actors that care only

about themselves and nothing about the school or the havoc their

actions cause,” Dodd said. “It just expands the law to include

nonagents. This closes what I believe is a loophole.”

Last week, Attorney General Richard Cordray notified 91

registered sports agents in Ohio that he was going to begin

enforcing a 9-year-old law that governs them. The law carries civil

and criminal penalties.

But Dodd fears that current law also leaves too many outside the

law’s clutches, namely boosters or others who want to cash in on or

cozy up to a college athlete because of their talent and potential

earnings.

In recent years, boosters have wreaked havoc on Ohio State’s

football and basketball teams.

A $500 handout by one booster led to the benching of former

quarterback Troy Smith days before the 2004 Alamo Bowl.

The housing and tutoring of several men’s basketball players,

including Boban Savovic, arranged by a pair of boosters, led to

severe

NCAA sanctions.

That case cost the university more than $1 million in legal fees

and lost tournament revenues. The school also lost two scholarships

for a year.

The university banned those boosters, the harshest penalty it

could levy.

“They really don’t have any teeth,” Dodd said. “This is a

systematic problem.”

Rogue boosters caused major damage at Oklahoma, Michigan and,

mostly famously, Southern Methodist University. SMU has yet to

recover from the

NCAA-ordered suspension of

football in 1987.

“We’re talking about people who intentionally break

NCAA rules,” Dodd said.

Ohio State officials said they applaud Dodd’s effort to

strengthen the state’s existing law.

“We would absolutely support anything that helps make our lives

easier with individuals who act outside the bounds of

NCAA rules and are trying to provide

extra benefits to student athletes,” said Doug Archie, OSU’s

director of compliance.

Dodd said that he wrote the bill because too many people who

have tampered with athletes have escaped punishment, including,

most recently, a former sports agent who told Sports Illustrated

this week that he tried to sign former Ohio State wide receiver

Santonio Holmes while he was still in college in 2005.

That agent, who can’t be punished because a four-year statute of

limitations has expired, and numerous other agents and boosters,

have skirted long enough, Dodd said.

“These people knew what they were doing was wrong,” he said.

“They exposed the university.”

jriepenhoff@dispatch.com

mwagner@dispatch.com