NCAA DIVISION I: AGENTS: A GROWING PROBLEM ON YOUR CAMPUS
PAT MEISER-MC KNETT:
(Monday, June 6- 11:15- 12:30 p.m.)
My name is Pat Meiser-McKnett. I'm the associate athletic director at the University of Connecticut and I will be serving as your co-moderator on today's panel. Serving with me to my right is Bob Moorman. Bob is presently the commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. He's held that position for 14 years. In addition to that role as a collegiate commissioner, Bob has had extensive involvement in intercollegiate athletics and athletics in general, the professional ranks as well as the intercollegiate ranks. He's coached on the college level. He's coached in the armed services and served as a professional scout in the sport of football for over seven years. Bob and I met through the NCAA Professional Sport Liaison Committee and we have been actively involved with the issue of agents for quite a few years and have had the opportunity to come in contact with the gentlemen to my left and we're very pleased to have them with us today.
The issue of agents on the college campuses is a very, very active complicated issue. At the present time we have campus panels taking place. We have approximately II states right now that have laws and regulations relative to agents, with 15 states with pending legislation. We have players associations attempting to regulate agents and, of course, your major concern is with your coaches and as athletic directors what is happening on the campuses. It's a very, very complicated issue which, to me, doesn't seem to be getting any easier as time passes. Hopefully, we'll be able to sort out some of the real issues today with our panel.
At this time I would like to introduce the members of the panel. To my far right, assisting us today, is Steve Morgan, assistant executive director of the NCAA. He will provide us with very specific information
on NCAA regulations, should those questions come up. The panelists representing today's panel are to my left, Don Weiss. Don is the executive director of the National Football League. He has been affiliated with the NFL for over 20 years and has been involved with the NCAA Pro-Sports Liaison Committee in a very supportive and very informati ve way.
To Mr. We1ss's left 1s Dav1d Falk. David is the senior vice president of ProServ, Inc. His primary area of responsibility is in the team sports division and over the last 14 years, he has had
the opportunity to serve over 50 professional athletes, primarily 1n the sports of basketball, football and baseball. I'm sure many of you know the names of people that David has worked with; John Lucas, James Worthy, Adrian Dantley, Phil Ford , Buck Williams and, most notably, Michael Jordan .
To Mr. Falk's left is Charles Grantham, who is the executive director of the NBA Players Association. He has been involved with the NBA Players Association for approximately 10 years. He, too, has been a very resourceful person for us in attempting to resolve some of the problems that presently exist. Prior to his involvement with NBA Players Association, Mr. Grantham served as the director of admissions at the Wharton School of Business at Penn.
The format we will use this morning is to ask each of our three panelists to provide you with a six-to eight-minute position on some thoughts and concerns that they have on this very vital issue. After that time we will open up the floor for questions and answers because we realize in order for this issue to move forth, we really need to have dialogue. The concerns that you have are very real. The concerns that they have are very real also.
At this time, I would like to ask my co-moderator, Bob Moorman to come forward and share with you some introductory remarks on what I consider one of the most complicated issues in college athletics today. Bob.
Good morning. I think one of our big problems within our colleges is the lack of education to our young athletes on what they need to know, reference to agent signing and things of that nature. One thing that I am extremely concerned about is the fact that a player signs with an unscrupulous agent and then the institution involved bars the NFL scouts from coming on campus. If there's one person in this business that really tries to keep kids in school, it's the scout. The unscrupulous agent is trying to get him out and it's not likely that you would close up your kitchen because one guy got indigestion. I think most of you understand that institutions do this. I am very concerned because I think we are not giving a youngster the benefit of the education he needs. Now we could do many, many things which will come out in this discussion. We can educate that kid, we can advise the kid, but the coaches don't worry about it. They tell this kid, "you're going to be a great athlete, I'm going to get you signed up as a pro. But then they object when someone on the outside says the same thing .So, it's a problem of getting your athletes in , educating them and not just worrying about when they can make a basket or kick the football or hit the puck.
We had discussion in New York on what we needed to do to solve the problem concerning
legislation. On the committee discussing these matters was a young person who is in the National Hockey League office now. But he was a player and he had an agent and he lost approximately $140,000 by not understanding what type of person should be representing him. We represent the kids in school. Wel It's not the other guy. We are responsible for those kids once they get into our institutions. Pay very close attention to what our panelists are saying. We need to get a lot done today with reference to young people who are going to be playing on our fields, courts, swimming pools, etc.
Don Weiss was extremely helpful when I was on the Pro Liaison Committee. He would like to get
legislation to say a kid has to stay in school four years. Of course, the NCAA cannot do that. But we have to work with him and educate him so kids won't come out the easy way. I think most of you know what the
easy way would be. I would like to introduce a very close friend of the NCAA, Don Weiss, executive director of the NFL.
It's a pleasure to be with you this morning and to have the opportunity to discuss with you some of the mutual concerns we have. I will say at the outset that we're very pleased that communications between the NFL and the colleges would appear to be as open as they have been in years. In addition to our regular annual meetings with the pro liaison group from the NCAA, of which Bob has been chairman for a number of years and of which Pat has been a member for the last several years, this spring we spent half a day with an ad hoc committee put together by Dick Schultz and including two commissioners, Wayne Duke of the Big Ten and Carl James of the Big Eight, Lavelle Edwards, the president of the American Football Coaches Association and DeLoss Dodds, the athletic director at Texas.
This came on the heels of meetings last year with Carl Miller and a number of others from NACDA and a special meeting with a CFA coaches committee composed of Joe Paterno, Jackie Sherrill and Tom Osborn. We obviously didn't turn the world upside down in those meetings, nor does there appear to be an easy answer.
But I think we established one thing, which was a clearer understanding of why we do certain things and why we can't do certain things and also, to understand the NCAA's position and the positions of the other groups. I will say that as a result of the meeting with the CFA coaches committee, we came up with a number of ideas
that we subsequently took to two of our committees in the NFL, the Competition Committee and the Pro College Relations Committee, and we very recently adopted a bylaw which is going to Beverly restrict the number of times that our clubs will take a draft eligible athlete off of the campus. We've increased the number of combine meetings to two instead of one with the second one to be held closer to our draft for the purposes of a physical examination only at a common centrally located site rather than having a few of the clubs bringing so many players to their facility for the purposes of physical only.
We've had stringent rules in these areas for many years, but obviously, with the dollars being paid to the first and second round, possibly third round choices these days, the clubs are understandably more concerned about making sure they know everything about that young man. We admit there is some overkill. What we adopted within the last 10 days at a meeting in Miami is aimed at that overkill and puts some severe limitations on it.
One of the things we have learned is that there is not a clear understanding of the NFL system and the reasons for it and I thought perhaps we could touch on that just a little bit. As you know there are three steps in our eligibility rules. One is that an athlete must have exhausted all his collegiate athletic eligibility through participation. Two is by graduation and the third is five years from the time that he enrolled at a particular institution. There can be early graduation as in the case of Bernie Kosar and Vinnie Testaverde and there can also be special exemptions made by the commissioner. The reason for the special exemption is our desire in trying to maintain eligibility standards that have been a part of the NFL for over 60 years. By making certain exemptions where we feel that on a case by case basis, it's necessary at the expense of the endangered to try to protect the overall system itself. We understand that there are tenuous legal circumstances involved, but in each of these cases we have chosen to act individually to try to preserve the whole.
With the eligibility rule the natural following point is our draft which we also feel very strongly about. We feel that the draft is the one part of our procedure that gives every club the opportunity to compete and provides players with the equal opportunity for dollar achievement and performance achievement in 28 different locations. Without that, we feel that those job opportunities would be extremely limited because you wouldn't have 28 teams able to compete. But it might not exist at all because after all, when you come right down to it, what we're presenting is entertainment and in order to present it, you have to have competitiveness and you have to have regulations that handle it.
We hope we're able to preserve what we have in the years ahead. We feel that it is in the best interest of everyone to maintain those eligibility standards. We understand that there will be times when we will have to make exceptions down the line as we have in the last few years, particularly when the public is aware of certain circumstances.
There are simply not that many opportunities for undergraduates to succeed in the NFL. We urge all of our personnel and our scouts included, to urge the young man to stay in school for as long as he can. We feel that it's important and we have no intention at this time of changing, absent a legal directive forcing us to do it. Thank you very much.
Thank you Don. Our agent representative is what we call one of the good guys. We have some unscrupulous agents as most of you know. But one problem we do have that a lot of people don't understand, for example, is that we have about 1,540 some players in the National Football League and I think we've got about 3,000
agents, so each football player could have two or three if he wanted. But what you don't understand further, is they have leg men, so to speak, that work for the agents and many of them are black-legged men that make five or ten cents and go out and try to talk the young black kid into coming in. Many black
athletes feel that they are speaking to a black firm, which they are not, and they get ripped off.
We have an individual who is above board and can bring up a lot of things that we need to know. One thing we know for certain is that agents are here to stay so I would like to introduce one of the good ones, David Falk.
Good morning and thank you for that nice introduction. I think the representation of college athletes in professional sports directly impacts and affects American colleges and universities. It affects the NCAA which governs these institutions. It affects student-athletes who are seeking to sell their services in the professional ranks and, quite naturally, it affects the agents who are interested in effectuating the transition of these athletes into the pro ranks.
Despite this overlapping of interests, there is really no inherent relationship between the colleges, the players and the agents who are seeking to represent them. I think that's a very important fundamental part of the problem. For example, the NCAA does not currently regulate agents although they do purport to regulate the relationships between college student-athletes and agents. The vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States do not intentionally become involved in the relationship between agents and college players, despite the fact that many made universities in the country a virtual feeding grounds for the pro teams on the minor leagues.
In the last couple of years, thanks to the activities of people like Norby WaIters and Lloyd Bloom and Abernathyand others, there's been a height in public awareness of the agent problem in college sports and yet onlya few colleges have initiated any kind of contact or procedures for dealing with athletes. Quite frankly, I'm delighted that some of you this morning took the time to come down here. I'm a little disappointed that the attendance isn't significantly greater and it makes me wonder that if the problem is so significant, why aren't there more people here this morning trying to do something about it.
It has not been the case in the past, and I personally think it's naive to expect that it will be the case in the future, that agents will regulate themselves. There have recently been a number of industry standards and procedures through the union which Charlie will talk about a little bit that have been problematic in trying to improve the regulations. Certain states, somewhere between 15 and 26 states, either currently have legislation or are discussing legislation to regulate the activities of agents. But despite all of these activities, in my opinion, the problem seems to be getting worse, not better. And as it becomes more acute, unfortunately, many institutions are further withdrawing from the problem rather than addressing it.
It gets to the point where being an agent is like having a disease. A player has to get one and he hopes that in getting one, it is done in the most painless way possible. As a full-time sports attorney being in the business for 14 years, I'm as concerned about the problem as anyone in this room. Today, I think the improper actions of a very small group of agents and the virtual lack of action by a very large group of universities have combined to stigmatize the profession of representing professional players. I don't want to be too negative, but I think there are a lot of things that can be done and this forum certainly is a good start, but, I feel very strongly that every person involved in the administration of intercollegiate athletics that is effected by the transition of college players into the pro ranks has an absolute obligation to immediately adopt an attitude of involvement, affirmative action and accountability. I think that it's the day of ducking your head in the sand and hoping the NCAA will come along with a solution or the state legislature will come along with a solution or the players association will come along with a solution.
I think every university has a responsibility to provide education to its athletes concerning the business aspects of professional sports. Everybody reads in the newspapers and sees on television the tremendous proliferation of salaries. The economics of professional sports are tremendous and I think that athletes, both at major universities and smaller universities need to be better educated to understand what's
involved and be better educated as to whether or not they even have a future in professional sports.
I think that such courses probably ought to be mandatory, a condition of continued eligibility. That's how important it is.
I think every university, and perhaps the NCAA, has a responsibility to provide counseling for athletes. I think that it's one of the great ironies in intercollegiate sports today that if you take a university that has 10,000 applications for admission by normal students and maybe accepts 10 or 15 percent of those students into the class, when those students graduate at the end of their senior year, the university, at no charge, provides job counseling and placement services. They invite major corporations onto the campus to interview these students in trying to help them get jobs. And yet, when you turn the tables and you take an athletes
who has been actively recruited by a university, and has been given about a $75,000 free ride for four years, when his career is over, it is a rare instance that the school takes any action whatsoever to make sure that he is given counseling as far as what's involved in the next transition of his career. How do you choose an agent? Who are people with good track records? Who are people who have poor track records? Who are people who are convicted felons? The coach, too often, is off recruiting for the next batch of players and promising to take care of them when he hasn't taken care of his graduating senior in his backyard.
I think every university has an obligation to make available information and analysis of the services
that are offered by the agents. I think most of the people in the business today, certainly in the football and basketball area, have got to be certified by the players association. You've got to submit detailed information about your educational backgrounds, your clients, your fees, services and there's really no excuse today for universities to say they don't know much about it. People like Charlie Gratham spend half their time educating colleges and perspective student-athletes about what's out there, and I think the NFL association does the same thing.
Universities and colleges could easily make it a condition precedent. Anyone like myself stepping on campus should submit a detailed affidavit as far as what their background and services they have to offer are. Every institution, and perhaps the NCAA, ought to make available fUll-time personnel to assist the student in selecting a representative. I think that many colleges, certainlyon the football side, have a fUll-time
liaison individual with the NFL to arrange scouting and combines. The same resource should be made available to the student-athletes in choosing an agent. It is totally inexcusable for a school, a coach or an athletic director to respond, "I'm sorry, we don't get involved with agents", or, "I'm sorry, we're really too busy or we don't want to influence an athlete's choice or the coach is really tied up in recruiting right now."
Those attitudes over the past number of years have promoted an environment where the Norby Walters and the Abernathys flourish and the people who are trying to compete honestly and wait til the student's eligibility is finished, really can't compete effectively and are at a tremendous disadvantage. The problem is very serious, the consequences are very significant for everyone involved, the athlete, the school, the NCAA, even the pros. The solution lies in attacking the problem not ducking it. We need to attack the problem and the causes of the problem. There is an agent problem in college sports and the buck must stop in the colleges.
Who at the school should be involved? In my opinion, I think certainly the coach should be involved.
When he recruits a player and makes a commitment to take care of this player and oversee his education, part of his education is the understanding, does he have a career in professional sports in the future or does he not have a career in professional sports? Who can help him make the transition, and how can he best help make the transition. There are certainly a number of outstanding examples in my career of coaches who have done that in the past and who are doing it everyday and there aren't any agent problems at those schools. Some prominent schools that come to my mind are North Carolina, Georgetown and Duke where there are no agent problems because the coaches do get totally involved.
The athletic directors also have an obligation because it is your responsibility to oversee the college program. I've called many athletic directors requesting an audience with the entire team to give a seminar on how to pick an agent, and I'd say 95 percent of the time their response was, "sorry, we don't get involved
with agents, call the coach." If you call the coach, their response is, "I don't get involved in an agent, call the player." Everyone then wonders why the Norby WaIters are wandering around the campuses. The schools could make available business professors, law professors and people involved in sports management to better understand the scope of the problem and what to do about it.
There's no easy answer to this problem, but the problem comes from within, so the answer must come from within. Everyone who cares about college athletics, the universities, the players, the agents, the pros, all have a mutual interest in cleaning up this problem. When I went to school in the late 60s and early 70s , there was a prevailing wisdom that said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." I think the ball's in your court and I invite everyone here to take a much more active role in helping clean up this problem. Thank you.
BOB MOORMAN :
Thank you very much, David. Our next panelist has a group that has tight control on agency and that i Charlie Grantham, who is the executive director of the National Basketball Association Players Association. They have good control, not only on the players in the league, but on the players coming in. Possibly some these things will work over into other professional sports and, most assuredly, it's got to work down where can handle it. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce Charlie Grantham.
Thank you and good morning .I'm down here on a marketing mission because I don't think most of you kn who we are. The National Basketball Players Association as well as the National Football League Players Association and also the Major League Baseball Players Association should all become allies of all of the athletic directors because I think we have the basis of control for a good part of your problem. The probl is that most of you don't know that we exist and that we have been regulating agents for the last two years The reason I say it's a marketing mission is because I'm really here to seek your help and I'm here to real seek your cooperation.
For the last ten years that I've been in this business there's been no communication between the athletic departments of the various universities and the respect of player associations. It's important th we communicate because, certainly in basketball, we are the ones who can do something about agents who perf improperly.
We are the exclusive bargaining unit of all NBA players. That means all 300 players as well as incomj rookies. We define the relationship between management and labor and we put together the entire framework which David Falk and others operate. In 1986, our players, realizing the whole agent business was a problem, started to shift focus in our organization going strictly from an economic bargaining unit
to providing services for our players. We were more interested in having our players keep more of the mone that we help them make. Consequently, we got involved in developing a very good agent regulation system. only problem with it is that we have difficulty monitoring and policing. To some degree, that's where the NCAA and you athletic directors can help us.
We have the ultimate weapon. If, in fact, an agent has improperly acted on your campus or with an athlete, we can prevent him from negotiating contracts. Each year all agents are required to sign agent-player contracts. With those agent-player contracts, we then notify the teams that only this particl agent can represent that athlete. We also state that without that relationship and if the negotiated contl would happen, it would be null and void. So, we have the ultimate weapon, but we're looking for help from NCAA to provide us with some information through its enforcement and through its investigative arms that we can prevent some of these agents from abusing our athletes.
Last year was the first year we had a rookie seminar for three days. One of the things we do with our rookies is spend three days talking to them about two major items .One, is drugs and two, being the whole concept of representation from contract negotiation to endorsements to money management. We feel that givel the amount of information and the data that we have in our computers, we can help them also.
But, we catch them at a late date. I advocate many of the things which David had mentioned. Clearly, the responsibility starts much earlier than when the athlete graduates. We know that agents court athletes early as their senior year in high school. Given that, there must be communication and education on the college level. Just as we deal with drug education, we need to start dealing with agent education. Player: who come in on scholarships certainly should be given the benefits of a seminar at least twice or three tim, during their career with some of our representatives from our union and football players union, etc. to hell educate them about agents, about how to choose agents, about what agents do, about what agents should not b,
I'm going to get a list of all the athletic directors present at this conference who would like a Cop) of our book, which I hope you will use as your bible. If there's any information that you need to know abc procedures, our process, you may phone us. We recommend that senior athletes who are looking or will proba be drafted phone us. We can tell them which agents are certified and which agents are not certified. We c help them by providing them with as much information as is possible in this day and age of agents.
I know there will be many questions, but the major thrust of my presentation is, we'd like to recruit your help because in 1986 we became a change agent and I'm hoping that in 1988 you become change agents and that you help us help the athlete. Thank you.
PAT MEISER-MC KNETT:
Thank you very much. I believe that over the last 35 to 40 minutes we've been given a lot of informal which provokes a lot of thoughts in your minds and at this time we would like to open up the floor to questions.
Dick Myers, American University. I would like to direct this to all three of our distinguished panelists and get their viewpoints. It would be helpful if they would explain to the members what is the current certification process on agents. Howare the good guys distinguished from the bad guys?
CHARLIE GRANTHAM :
Each year agents who would like to represent professional basketball players submit an application to us. They also must complete a $400 check to us, obviously, but they also must attend at least one educational
seminar a year which we put on, both in New York and also in Los Angeles, to go over with them the entire collective bargaining agreement. It's crucial that they understand it. We go over with them the past two or three years financial contracts of each individual player in the first round. We give them all types of financial data to try to educate the agents so they may best represent the athletes.
What's most important here, is the list of prohibited activities of agents. We have exactly 16 of them, but I will share only a couple with you; providing or offering money or other things of value to a member of a player's family or any other person for the purpose of inducing or encouraging the player to utilize his services. This, of course, is prior to him becoming that representative. Concealing material facts from the player whom the agent is representing which relate to the subject of the individual contract negotiations is also prohibited. Any type of monetary inducements, or anything of value to induce the player to sign with
them are all prohibited activities of agents. When we can find that kind of information out, we can decertify that agent. Right now we have 250-some agents who are certified and approximately 125 to 130 of them actually represent players.
We are trying to get more involved in the policing of these agents. We have a close-knit group of agents who work with us and one of the most important things is that we are also able to regulate agents who represent rookies. Unlike football at this point, and I'm encouraging others to seek that authority, we can help you upon that senior becoming a rookie player.
Personally, I think it has become the responsibility more of the players' unions because it has been a service. We can't ever expect that agents will regulate themselves. We have prevented agents
from representing players, so we're not a silent group just sitting back taking a reactive role in this process, but we still need some help from you.
Dick, just to respond from a slightly different perspective, I'm an attorney and a member of the D.C. Bar Association, the Sports Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association Forum Committee on Entertainment in Sports, I'm licensed by the NBA Players Association, the NFL Players Association and I
lecture in D.C. on continuing legal education, so I think I've got some reasonable credentials, but if I can't communicate those credentials and distinguish myself from Norby WaIters, who's not a member of any of those groups to a senior at American University who may go in the third round in the NBA draft, what effectiveness does all the regulation and all the registration and licensing have if the players you're seeking to represent and the players that you're seeking to protect and that the Players Association is seeking to protect don't understand the difference between a registered agent and a non-registered agent? Between a lawyer and a
person who is not a lawyer? Between a code of conduct that a lawyer is sworn to uphold and a person who may be a high school drop out? That's really where the communication with the colleges become so important.
Time and time again, we hear that schools are nervous about narrowing the field to six or eight or 10 people because they're concerned the player is going to say, "You recommended eight people, I chose one of the eight and I didn't like him." What happens is the schools don't do anything and the player's much more likely then to chose someone not competent, qualified, experienced, all of the above, and sometimes not honest.
That's why at the risk of sounding like an activist this morning, my frustration level is very high because there are enough good people in this industry who do it full-time for a living, many of whom are lawyers who want to see it done right. We want to belong to every licensing organization. If the effectiveness of belonging to those groups isn't communicated and reinforced to your student-athletes and your coaches, all you're doing is making the good guys better and giving the bad guys a greater opportunity to do their work.
The NFL certification program is very similar to what Charlie outlines. I would just like to focus on
one point that he brought up. One of the problems is that it is very hard to monitor and to enforce. I'm not aware of any agent that has been decertified. There is the further step, as Charlie pointed out, that NFL rookies or first year players are not part of the bargaining unit until they have already signed a contract,
so we have a different situation than the NBA. That's part of the negotiations, if they become negotiations, but that's part of the items being discussed at the bargaining table.
As of this particular time any rookie coming into the League may be represented by any agent that he chooses. Until that first contract is signed he's not part of the bargaining unit.
Dick Hill, University of Louisville. We have a career counseling panel in place and during our discussions we've been concerned with how much liability would accrue to the university or to the state of Kentucky via the panel if we do more than provide counseling information in regard to sports agents.
FROM THE PANEL:
Let's flip the question around. What liability would you have if you don't recommend somebody and a player should come back and sue a school for negligence with an applied contract where he was recruited to attend a school for four years and was provided absolutely no guidance whatsoever in choosing somebody and ended up with a Norby WaIters and lost one million dollars and said, "You're my athletic director, where's my advice?" Sure there are some risks, but unfortunately, the whole system is viewed as a negative. As I said before, it's almost like a disease. Bob Ruxon wrote a book and compares choosing an agent to going to the dentist. I think that's a mistake because it's a very important aspect of a player's career to have good advice, just like it's important for a successful businessman to have a good attorney.
That student is 21 years old, he's not as sophisticated as most of you in this room, he's going through it the first time whereas you go through it every year and you learn more and more each time. It's a very important responsibility to provide the panel. While some of us would like the panel to take a more proactive role in actually recommending one or two people, it would be a great step forward to recommend against 20 or 30 people who simply shouldn't be involved.
FROM THE PANEL:
We'd like you to use us as a resource. If you have one or two athletes who probably will go in the firl round, we can basically tell them what each round or what each selection in the top 15 have gone at over the last three to five years. What salaries have taken place, what type of contracts should be negotiated
for them and who has negotiated those contracts for them are all in our data banks. We'd like to share that with you, so call on us.
I'm Dan Doyle from the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island. Steve Morgan, my understanding now is that the NCAA does not now regulate agents and I'm wondering if a plan is imminent and if so, what is the timetable. ?
There is no timetable in place for regulating agents beyond the registration program that currently exists, which is a voluntary one. The problem the NCAA has, as most of you know, is that there is no jurisdiction over an agent. There's no ability in the association to block an agent from involvement with student-athletes and in any way impose disciplinary action on that agent. We have to deal with institutions, and through institutions, with student-athletes involved so that's a problem legislatively for the associatio in addressing it.
Through the work of the Pro-Sports Liaison Committee and encouragement from many of the people from the Players Association and the legal offices, we've gotten into a voluntary registration program and some informational campaigns and, of course, the authority to create the career counseling panels which have been mentioned.
As far as actual regulation and certification restriction type of work, the association's jurisdiction really isn't there in the same way that the players associations can, if they are able, through the collectivE bargaining process, to get the kinds of rides that Charlie was discussing, then they can have a real disciplinary effect on blocking someone from representing individuals working in that field. The NCAA does not have that kind of a lever at this point. Ours is basically a cooperative process and we are interested ir information from the players associations and their certification process. Certainly, there is the opportunity for two-way communications if we're aware of information that would be of value to the league
or the players association in helping identify people who are causing problems, we'd be happy to share that. It's hard for us to make that as much a point of focus as some of the things that run more directly to the competitive business of operating athletic programs , such as dealing with recruiting violations, benefits and academic problems , the things that can really effect day-to-day competition .
I'd like to pose a question to all four of the panelists. In the last four months we've had six states pass agent legislation. We have 11 states that now have passed it nationally so it's not inconceivable in the next year and a half that we might find half of the states in the nation with agent athlete legislation. It presents three potentials. One, a jumble of state legislation with various states looking at their own particular problems and regulating the actions in a haphazard fashion; secondly, the possibility of a uniform state act and thirdly, the possibility of some federal legislation. I'd like to get reactions from all four
of you as to which of the three you would favor, if any. And assuming that there is one of the three that you would favor, would your organizations actively support it in terms of legislative lobbying for example?
One of the things that we talked about with the ad hoc committee that I made reference to was the possibility of either joint legislation or joint efforts in this area. We assured Dick Schultz that we would support whatever efforts that the NCAA would make in the various state legislatures.
I would think that on a federal level it might be very difficult to achieve. I understand that the NCAA office through its legal and legislative arms has developed a pilot type of legislation that is available for any state interested in introducing such legislation. I would assume that that would be aimed at uniform state laws.
Don is correct that there has been some effort to develop a standardized piece of legislation through the NCAA legal counsel. It really is a somewhat narrow piece that's directed more to requiring the provision of information to collegiate institutions if an agent is going to get involved with a student-athlete on a particular campus. I do think that some uniformity would be helpful. Ideally, if you can concede the fact that regulation is appropriate and that this is an area in which some kind of involvement is appropriate on
the government level to provide protection. The federal rule would seem more appropriate, although I hesitate to advocate greater federal involvement in any process, but it would provide some uniformity nationally that could not be achieved as effectively on a state by state basis. The NCAA as far as its lobbying efforts on any kind of legislation is, of course, not me or Dick Schultz or any of the administrative staff hired to run the programs but rather that direction would have to come from the membership through either
legislative action at the NCAA level or through direction from the NCAA counsel as to the policy of the association. It is clear that the associati0n at this point has an interest in the whole area, we're willing and able to listen at the staff level to any ideas that come forward for effective regulation.
I think the membership has taken enough action in this area to indicate support for some kind of general action if we could find a good way to do it. So, I think we'll continue to look for avenues, some kind of uniformity either through state or federal action, which seem to be the most appropriate at this point.
FROM THE PANEL:
There are a lot of problems with legislation, certainly a lot of problems with each state having different legislations. It might be violative of the commerce clause as an interference to interstate commerce, but beyond the specifics of the legal issue, it's really the wrong emphasis. A statute creates a punitive situation when the cow's out of the barn already. It's really too late at that point, so the emphasis needs to be on education on trying to educate the student-athlete and the school as far as what's a better way to do it. When I listen to these things, it constantly frustrates me because the NCAA and the schools are pushing the problem away from themselves and saying, "It's not our problem, it's all these bad agents." They're not involved enough to regulate it better. I don't feel the legislature would help.
I query whether the schools who make up the NCAA would like to be subject to the same federal legislation if they have a booster who cheats, if a coach takes an extra recruiting trip, rather than having Steve
Morgan's office regulate the offense, would they like to be subject to a federal or state legislation. The problem is that the schools do not want to have the same responsibility to solving the problem so the whole problem is shifted to one small area. Certainly, I'm not here to say there's not a major problem, but it persists and grows worse by the continuing inaction of the schools and I would only hope that as the publicity gets greater and greater and there's more Abernathys and there's more settlements, that the schools would find that as a stimulus to get more involved not to look to some external source like federal legislation.
RALPH FLOYD :
I'm Ralph Floyd from Indiana University. We've had an individual who we respect greatly come in and sit down with our Big Ten athletic directors and I would like to address my question to three members of the panel. In his presentation of how we can help the student-athlete, what type of program that we can present to the 10 members of our conference, there was a statement that he made and it makes me greatly concerned
about our future: "Eighty percent of the athletes drafted in the first three rounds of the draft have aIr' been signed, starting in their sophomore, junior and senior years." I would like a response from the three members of the panel pertaining to that 80 percent.
Factually, we have not had that kind of information. There are a lot of rumors to that effect and policing and enforcing is a very difficult problem. If we had that kind of information, we would decertify such an agent as you would, I'm sure. I can't overemphasize the fact that somebody has to get involved and whether you're going to be proactive or reactive is the issue. If you're going to initiate a program on th! conference level and on the school level to educate our kids, hopefully, at some point we can eliminate tha1 problem or at least cut down on the percentage.
We only hear rumors to the fact that certain agents have signed. We see things happen with regard to three to five agents coming on campus for your committees. Many times they have said that the player had
already signed with a particular agent. I would not say that is the rule because by the time that we get a student-agent contract and the competition for it is so keen, I would say that those figures are very high.
This individual was not an agent.
In the basketball side, I say it is an exception for any first round player to have an arrangement done prior to the time his eligibility is completed. I have seen instances where it has happened, but 80 percent is a gross exaggeration. If it happens once, it is too much. We were in contact with a coach in your conference this year stating that when the year was over we would like to meet with him and one or two of thE seniors. He wrote back and said, "thanks, that's the way to do it." The day the season ended until today, I've yet to hear back from the coach. The player has already signed with someone else. You're in a system where if you want to do it the right way and the university doesn't provide meaningful access to meet the player in the coach's office, all you're doing is encouraging players to go ahead and sign early because there's no oversight whatsoever by the school.
Put yourself in our shoes. If you want to do it right and you can't get even the coach to return your phone calls, and you want to represent a player, what other recourse do you have?
FROM THE PANEL:
I, too, doubt that the 80 percent figure is valid, but I don't think that's the issue. The issue is tt we have to concede overall that it is a problem and to whatever degree the problem exists, it's probably a significant one in a number of cases. Primarily, the percentages should not influence us as much as the fac that we do concede to the fact that there is a problem. More education and more active involvement in the college community is absolutely necessary.
FROM THE FLOOR:
What is being done to encourage a clause in our pro contracts to reimburse the player for going back a! completing his degree?
FROM THE PANEL:
I think that is a case by case basis. Unfortunately, the question is about maturity. Very few player: are prepared emotionally and socially to play professional sports at the age of 20 or 21. We were the only group in the United States to recommend to Patrick Ewing to go back for his senior year. I don't think a clause to pay a certain amount of money to go back to school is really the answer.
It's another reason for the need to have someone explain to these players the situation. I read that Charles Smith of the University of Pittsburgh was thinking about leaving school early. I then met with him and Paul Evans at school and asked him if he was afraid of rolling up his sleeves and playing the way he should play and coming out as a senior and go on for his degree. I'm not sure how much impact I had, but hE did stay in school. There aren't enough people telling players what they need to hear. Most people view tl as an extension of college recruiting. They tell the players what they think they want to hear and grossly exaggerate the number of dollars and grossly exaggerate their probability of pro success. There needs to bE better balance presented to these players as far as what the real world is all about after college.
We, as a players association, certainly encourage all of our athletes to complete their education. At the same time, we all have to deal with some very realistic issues. Salaries being what they are and talent being as delicate as it is, we are there to provide some good solid information on what value is all about in the NBA.
I'm not as concerned about those athletes who come in our league early. I'm more concerned about the 95 percent who perhaps on scholarships don't complete their education in four or five years. They are more my concern than the ones who come into the NBA. Because if I can get them into the NBA in five years, they can earn two or three million dollars and in the process I can encourage them to go back to school part-time and then I have done my job.
If you start a program on your campus to educate these students as freshmen that would help. Otherwise, we're going to lose a lot of good kids and they won't know where they're going.
Thank you very much.