“We didn’t want to relive a Cam Newton situation,” Carr said of the bill, which was signed into law last week by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Newton’s father allegedly sought payment from an agent in return for steering the star player to Mississippi State University when he was being recruited from a Texas junior college. Newton, who led the Auburn Tigers to the national championship in February and won the 2010 Heisman Trophy, entered the NFL draft this spring after one year at the university.
Tracy said he sponsored the bill “to expand the definition to all parties that are currently acting as an athlete agent in order to protect the student athletes and punish the wrongdoers.” He noted that it also clearly defines the Tennessee secretary of state’s role in investigating illicit activity and seeking penalties against lawbreaking sports agents.
Carr said Secretary of State Tre Hargett asked him to sponsor the legislation, which would levy a $25,000 fine against violators. The bill passed the House and Senate without opposition.
“While college athletics are governed by rules about student athletes interacting with agents, the agents themselves operate outside the reach of college athletics’ governing bodies,” Carr said. “As a result, student-athletes who deal with agents and the colleges that the athletes represent can face sanctions, but the agents haven’t. Under the new law, that will change.”
The new law widens the number of people who must register as sports agents so unscrupulous agents can no longer use people as intermediaries to talk to athletes, including high school and college players. Parents could act as their child’s agent if they don’t accept money, Tracy confirmed.
“If someone is functioning as an agent, he or she should register as an agent and follow all the requirements registered agents must follow,” Hargett said.
In addition, agents must notify colleges and universities in writing 48 hours before contacting an athlete.
Carr could not point to any specific cases in Tennessee that brought on this legislation. But Hargett said some athletes have lost amateur status because of premature dealings with agents.
Collegiate teams can face NCAA sanctions if any of their athletes take payments or have illegal contact with agents before their college careers end.
Agents who encourage high school athletes to accept college scholarships must disclose any relationship with colleges, according to Hargett’s office.
Carr noted that this part of the law could affect AAU coaches, some of whom have turned into unlicensed agents over the years.