Texas lawmakers crack down on unethical agents
Texas lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to a crackdown
on unethical sports agents that could lead to long prison
Texas is one of about 40 states that already have laws
regulating sports agents, but supporters say the new Texas measure
would be the toughest in the country.
If Gov. Rick Perry signs it into law, agents who lure college
athletes into contracts with improper benefits and gifts that cost
an athlete their NCAA eligibility could face felony charges and up
to 10 years in prison.
A review last year by The Associated Press found that even
though most states try to regulate sports agents, most had not
revoked or suspended a single license or invoked penalties of any
sort. Neither had the Federal Trade Commission, which was given
oversight authority about seven years ago.
Texas was one of the few states that consistently enforced the
law, assessing more than $17,000 in fines over two years.
The bill by Rep. Harold Dutton, a Houston Democrat, requires
agents to post a $50,000 bond with the state and be certified with
a national professional sports association. Agents would be banned
from providing anything of value to the athlete or their family
before the athlete completes their eligibility.
The bill also requires individuals, not corporations, to
register as agents, and includes so-called ”runners” who are
sometimes hired by agents to contact athletes or their families on
Dutton says the bill does not affect situations where athletes
choose to turn professional before their eligibility expires, so
long as the agent did not have improper contact before the athlete
makes an official decision. For example, Texas basketball players
Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and Cory Joseph all left school
early to enter the NBA draft.
Last year, the NCAA hit Southern California with a two-year bowl
ban, four years’ probation, loss of scholarships and other
sanctions for improper benefits to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie
Bush dating to the Trojans’ 2004 national championship season.
The NCAA said Bush accepted lavish gifts from sports marketers
hoping to sign him.