“We wanted to make sure we had legislation that better reflected what was going on in the real world,” said Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA’s managing director of enforcement. “What we realized was that because our definition is very narrow, it was only capturing those who may be negotiating with professional teams. There are a lot of other third-party representatives involved who are putting our student-athletes’ eligibility at risk in much the same way as any official registered agent could.”
The proposal has been approved by the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet as well as its Leadership Council. It’s expected to receive final approval in January from the association’s Division I Board of Directors, an 18-member panel of college chancellors and presidents.
The new definition of agent would cover anyone who “directly or indirectly represents or attempts to represent an individual for purposes of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation for financial gain” or “seeks to obtain any type of financial gain or benefit from securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment at an educational institution.”
Advisers, brand managers and “anyone who is employed or associated with such persons” also fall under the expanded definition.
The NCAA also expects to create a national registration system that would allow schools, state regulators and athletes to verify an agent’s qualifications and legal status through a single database. Unregistered agents would be prevented from meeting prospective clients at the annual, school-sponsored “agent days” common among major college programs.
The looming changes were among the topics at an NCAA-sponsored meeting in Washington last week that brought together federal lawmakers and state regulators with representatives of pro sports leagues as well as agents themselves.
Agent Eric Metz, whose Scottsdale, Ariz., firm has signed 30 first-round NFL draft choices, spoke to the group about the enforcement challenges presented by unscrupulous colleagues. In an interview with The Associated Press, he suggested that sports agents have become a scapegoat for rule-breaking seen for decades.
“By no stretch is it a one-way street,” Metz said. “The players are well aware of the rules. There’s culpability on both sides. There are agents looking for players. And there are players looking for agents.”