As the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) drafting committee sought to create legislation that would effectively regulate agents, it first needed to identify the problems. These problems exist in two significant areas.
Many athlete agents are not readily identified to the student-athlete. These unscrupulous individuals include prospective agents who are willing to use any means necessary to ensnare a student-athlete who has even a slight possibility of a professional career. The significant damage caused by impermissible and illegal inducements to student-athletes requires sensible legislation to provide protections for student-athletes and the institutions they attend. There is a real need to have access to information about the individuals who become involved with our student-athletes and to provide strong criminal, civil and administrative penalties along with the tools to ensure that law enforcement can adequately enforce the act.
In achieving this goal, the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA) contains a number of important provisions. The UAAA requires an agent to provide important information, both professional and criminal in nature. This information enables student-athletes, their parents and family, and university personnel to better evaluate the prospective agent. The UAAA also requires that written notice be provided to institutions when a student-athlete signs an agency contract before their eligibility expires. In addition, the UAAA gives authority to the Secretary of State to issue subpoenas that would enable the state to obtain relevant material that ensures compliance with the act. Finally, the UAAA provides for criminal, civil and administrative penalties with enforcement at the state level.
Lack of Uniformity of Current State Statutes. None of the solutions listed above can be effectively addressed if agents fail to register with the state. This leads us to the second problem. Since 1981(and before the state enactments of the UAAA in 2001), at least 28 states had statutes regulating athlete agents. These statutes are vague and vary considerably from state to state. This lack of uniformity clearly has had an impact on the number of agents registering with the states. For example, because of the inconsistencies among current state statutes and the lack of provisions for reciprocal registration and reasonable fee structures, an agent intending to do business in a large number of states may be forced to comply with 28 different sets of registration requirements, must be aware of 28 different regulatory schemes and must pay 28 different initial registration fees.
The UAAA allows an agent’s valid certificate of registration from one state to be honored in all other states that have adopted the act. The success of the reciprocal registration process is contingent on states establishing a reasonable fee schedule, including lower registration fees for reciprocal applications and renewals. Thus, more agents are likely to register due to the efficiency of this process, its practical cost saving implications for the agent and the benefits of complying with a single set of regulations.
Other Benefits of the UAAA
Protection for Student-Athletes. One of the most important benefits of the UAAA is the protection it affords for student-athletes. Some of the protections contained include prohibiting agents from giving false or misleading information or promises with the intent to induce a student-athlete into signing an agent contract. In addition, agents are prohibited from furnishing anything of value to a student-athlete before signing a contract. Further, an agent may not intentionally initiate contact with a student-athlete unless they are registered under the act. Also, for those student-athletes who do enter into a contract with an agent before their athletics eligibility expires, the act provides a student-athlete with the right to cancel the contract within 14 days. Finally, the contract must contain a notification to the student-athlete informing them that signing a contract may make the student-athlete ineligible for intercollegiate competition.
Protection for NCAA Member Institutions. The UAAA requires the agent and student-athlete to notify the institution within 72 hours of the signing of a contract, or before the student-athlete’s next scheduled athletics event, whichever occurs first. If a prospective student-athlete has signed a contract, the agent must notify the institution where the agent has reasonable grounds to believe the prospect will enroll. Finally, the act provides institutions with a right of action against the agent or former student-athlete for any damages caused by a violation of this act.