Sports Agents, The NCAA Or The Players: Who Is To Blame?

Who’s to blame when athletes become too friendly with agents?

By: Taren Vaughan

Playing sports on the collegiate level exposes athletes to various groups of individuals. Aside from their teammates, coaches and fans, college athletes come into close contact with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. However, there is one group of people that they are advised not to heavily associate with: sports agents.

The relations between college athletes and agents have always been under a microscope. If it even appears to be any kind of extensive conversation going on between the two parties, the NCAA will begin investigating the matter with the quickness. UNC Tar Heels’ Greg Little and Marvin Austin have been the most recent players to be under the watchful eye of the NCAA. The two were accused of receiving gifts from agents. Sounds like a familiar story line? This type of scenario is very common, especially with big name programs like USC and UNC. Not to say that this type of thing doesn’t happen at smaller universities because I am sure it does. But when you are talking about well known Division I athletic programs, they can’t help but stay on the radar. The main question of the day is who’s fault is it that players can even have the opportunity to come in such close contact with these sports agents?

According to NCAA rules, sports agents are allowed to communicate with the athletes’ parents but not directly to the athletes themselves. Okay, so the NCAA did clear their name by implementing this rule. But honestly, do you really think that’s going to stop an athlete from carrying on a “nice” conversation with a very convincing sports agent? Or do you think that the athletes’ parents are not going to inform them about what they have discussed with the sports agents? Yeah right. These athletes will find a way to get around these rules, despite the potential trouble they could get in for doing so. Not only could they themselves get in trouble. But the program that they play for could face much scrutiny as well. Do you think Reggie Bush was the only person chastised in the USC scandal? Oh no, it didn’t stop with him. The whole entire program was affected by his accused action, which has yet to be proven true. At the end of the day who is to blame for all of this?

As far as the NCAA goes, they do not allow these athletes to associate with sports agents. But do they really put forth a conscious effort to really let their players know that communicating with sports agents is an ultimate no-no? And do they really stress to them that the consequences they will face will be much more than just a slap on the hand? Judging from all of the past and current incidents involving sports agents and college players must mean that these words aren’t sinking in too well. Players continue to test their luck, it never fails. Knowing this, should the players hold the most responsibility?

Yes, these men and women are young adults. And they don’t always make the best choices. But they are of the age where they know right from wrong. Therefore, they should not be deemed as the innocent victims in situations like these. Ultimately, they are responsible for their own actions. Not their parents and not their coaches but themselves. Although this is true, it doesn’t make life easier when these smiling faces in business suits are talking money and fancy cars to you. This is when the players have to say to themselves “Is it worth risking my future?”

Sports agents have been known to over step their boundaries at times which leads to authority involvement. The fact of the matter is that a large percentage of these players will not go pro, point blank period. And for agents to take it upon themselves to find a way to contact them is beyond me. What if a player suffers a career ending injury in their last game of the season? All that talking that the agent was doing would have been pointless. No one is guaranteed a spot on a professional team’s roster. We never know what the future holds for college athletes which is why sports agents should not even be in the picture until the athletes are in the process of moving on to the professional level. Until then, they should keep their distance from each other.

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