Money in College Athletics: Sports Agents

Senior Assistant Editor, Scholarship Manager, Wintergreen Orchard House

Apr   2012



Who doesn't love a free gift? Free money? Sign me up!

Sometimes, though, this idea can be taken a little too far, especially when it comes to college athletics. On the heels of my last blog regarding the debate about paying college athletes a salary for their work, there is an entire other side to this topic that is placed squarely on the shoulders of sports agents.

NCAA regulations

The NCAA can be a fickle organization; recruitment is complicated and, for most, completely exhausting with its regulations and rules. Without it, though, college athletics would be totally out of hand. From what I have learned about money and benefits in college athletics, people need to pay more attention to what the NCAA would like college athletics to look like.

Before we get into the scandals within college athletics, take a look at this excerpt from the Summary of NCAA Regulations for the 2011-2012 academic year:

  1. You are not eligible for participation in a sport if you have ever: Taken pay, or the promise of pay, for competing in that sport. [Bylaw 12.1.2]
  2. You are not eligible in a sport if you ever have accepted money, transportation or other benefits from an agent or agreed to have an agent market your athletics ability or reputation in that sport. [Bylaw 12.3.1]

Illegally paying athletes

If you are ever offered money or gifts from a recruiter/agent, run in the other direction! It might seem cool to begin with because someone wants you so badly they are willing to give you anything, but it's illegal and neither the NCAA nor NAIA will allow athletes who take gifts to play in their leagues.

A recent article from NPR, The “Illegal Procedure” of Paying College Athletes, discusses the relationship between a sports agent and his recruits.

The article focused on a former sports agent, Josh Luchs, who learned from experience about the “dirty business side of college sports.” Despite trying to “help” his clients, Luchs' end game was to lure players to commit to working with him in the future because “it may only cost $200 a month for a player that could end up being a first-round draft choice and generate millions.”

If he payed off loans or gave $200 here and there, he created a dependency between himself and the player, something that a player would not find with an agent who is playing by NCAA and NAIA rules.

To be fair, Luchs realized the err of his ways and changed careers after getting caught many years ago. He is coming forward now to discuss the problems in college athletics today and how agents are taking advantage of athletes, who really should just be helping them.

The Reggie Bush scandal

The notion of illegally paying athletes has been around for a while and can be seen in scandals throughout college sport history, one of the more famous being that of Reggie Bush.

Reggie Bush allegedly received close to $200,000 and a house in California for his family from his marketing agents while he was playing for the University of Southern California. After all of this surfaced, the USC team was penalized and ultimately, Bush had to return his Heisman Trophy.

The scope of the problem

Bush is not the only player who has felt the sting of mistakes of agents supposedly looking out for them. Other players have been lured in with money, fancy trips, and special exceptions and, while I'm sure not all of them have been caught, a lot are in deep trouble with the NCAA.

If the NCAA decides players in these situations violated their regulations, players can be suspended from playing, their teams can be punished for their current season (and in some cases, more than one season), money has to be payed back, and more.

Keeping your wits about you

We all love free stuff and we all love people showering us with attention. But sometimes people aren't in it with your best interests in mind; they are in it for themselves and making that dollar. Don't put your college and potential professional athletic career in jeopardy for a few gifts and nice compliments! 

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About Megan Gibbs

Megan Gibbs

Megan is the Assistant Director of Online Marketing and Analytics Carnegie Communications, where she has worked since graduating from Merrimack College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. When not daydreaming about winning an Emmy or Oscar as a screenwriter, she spends her days working as Wintergreen’s editor for colleges and universities in the Southeast and building their scholarship database. As an avid sports fan and high school athlete herself, Megan not only looks forward to all Boston sports seasons, but also can't wait to root for her younger sister as she begins her Merrimack College softball career as a catcher this upcoming fall. She hopes to provide a fun and unique look at college and university-level athletics from March Madness, scholarships, and recruitment to intramurals and athletic culture! 

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