Progress afoot on issue of rogue agents;More talks due next week
NCAA, NFL and other officials
working to slow the activity of unscrupulous agents in
football will talk again next week
and are close to handing down recommendations that would really
make a difference, an
NCAA director said Wednesday.
“We continue to move this forward at a very rapid pace,” said
Rachael Newman Baker, who oversees agent, gambling and amateurism
activities for the Indianapolis-based association. She declined,
however, to indicate the direction the panel might take.
It will meet via teleconference Monday. Representatives from the
NCAA, NFL, NFL Players Association
football coaches association will
take part along with conference commissioners, state governmental
officials and agents.
Newman Baker said they’re tweaking a plan of attack. “I would
highly doubt if we get full consensus and we’re ready to come out
Monday and say, ‘Here you go,’ ” she said. “I could envision one
more call or in-person meeting before we get to that point.
“We want to get it right. However long it takes to get where we
feel everyone is comfortable and we’ve got some recommendations we
think will really make a difference, we’re going to take.”
football coaches are calling for the
NFLPA — the players union — and state governments to hit wayward
agents with tougher penalties. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
maintained this week that “I don’t think it is going to fall on any
single body, and I would include the
In Washington, at least one congressman is watching. In 2004,
Rep. Bart Gordon, D.-Tenn., and then-Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., now
athletics director at Nebraska, co-sponsored the Sports Agent
Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA), under which the attorney
general of any state can prosecute agents for ethics
Gordon said Wednesday that SPARTA had not been used as
forcefully as it needed to be and called on officials at a school
affected by agents to go to the attorney general in their state
with evidence of lawbreaking.
“If schools aren’t going to be proactive, the attorney general
is not going to go on a fishing expedition,” Gordon said. If the
NCAA sanctions, Gordon said the
NCAA should give it a “get out of
jail free” card for working to alleviate the problem.
“This issue gets hot periodically, and that’s when you have to
act,” he said.
The latest deliberations come as the agent issue grows ever
hotter. In a first-person account in this week’s Sports
Illustrated, former agent Josh Luchs names more than 30 former
college players he says accepted
money while they were in school in the early to mid-1990s. Some
players confirmed his claims to the magazine; others denied them or
declined to respond.
NCAA investigations and player
suspensions and dismissals have touched major-
football programs from Alabama to
Georgia to North Carolina.
NCAA boards, its Division I
Leadership Council and Division I Amateurism Cabinet, also are
addressing the issue, spurred in part by calls from such prominent
coaches as Alabama’s Nick Saban and Florida’s Urban Meyer.
“We have to continue to work at this,” said Grant Teaff,
executive director of the American
Football Coaches Association. “Most
issues are not resolved overnight, and this is one with a long
history and lack of control.”
Meanwhile, Florida coach Billy Donovan pointed to similar
problems in men’s basketball. “I’d say it’s about as bad. … It’s
amazing,” he said. “I think there’s greater awareness out there,
but it’s something that’s been going on for a long, long time.”
At least one basketball official said a similar collaborate
strike at illicit agents in that sport could grow out of the
football effort — if it yields
football is successful,” said Jim
Haney, who heads the National Association of Basketball Coaches,
“the natural thing is to say to basketball, ‘Well, how come you
guys aren’t doing it? …
“If we can help solve some of these problems that have scarred
football in the last months, should
we not do the same thing in basketball? Is it not in our best
interest to do so?’ In my mind, the answer would be yes.”
Contributing: David Jones of Florida Today