Way back in February, I outlined a plan for how to deal with the agent shenanigans plaguing college sports, promising I’d beef it up at a later date. Well, with all the drama surrounding the NCAA’s crackdown on illicit agent engagements, what better time to delve a little deeper?
To review, the idea is simple: Let college athletes sign contracts with agents.
The benefits seem pretty clear to me. First, it lessens the compliance burden on both athletic departments and NCAA investigators. Second, the players are compensated at no costs to the schools.
Of course, the idea raises its own set of thorny issues. Here are the main objections that I could come up with, as well as how to address them.
*Problem: How do you protect players from unscrupulous agents?
Allowing players to sign on with agents does clear up the current compliance problem. On the other hand, it creates the potential for widespread abuse of naive athletes by wannabes and incompetent chumps.
Luckily, there’s an easy answer here, too. The NFL Players Association already certifies agents who are allowed to represent players. An NCAA-sponsored educational program to inform athletes about best practices and to promote signing with NFLPA-certified agents would probably be helpful. Additionally, the NCAA could prohibit athletes from signing with non-certified agents.
*Problem: Wouldn’t it be easier for boosters to funnel money to recruits via agents?
There’s another simple fix in this case. Prohibit recruits from signing contracts until after they’re actually on campus.
Likewise, the ban on signing until a player has started school prevents agents themselves from directing players to particular programs.
*Problem: Doesn’t this proposal strengthen the legal case that athletes should be compensated as professionals?
I am not a lawyer, so I don’t really feel qualified to respond here.
However, given the reluctance the schools have shown when it comes to sharing the wealth, this objection would probably create the biggest roadblock to implementing such a policy.
If so, well, we might be back at square one.