In what is an extremely proactive, albeit way overdue action, the National Football League Players Association says it is considering a new rule to restrict agents from contacting college football players until they have declared for the draft.
The idea comes in part as a reaction to the revelation that Reggie Bush and his family may have accepted $ 100 thousand dollars or more in benefits from a would be agent during Bush’s junior year at Southern Cal.
Gene Upshaw, the Executive Director of the NFLPA told the Washington Post it is time the players got involved with the agent recruiting process. “I would like to see us strengthen the rules on recruiting,” Upshaw told The Post. “I want a rule that states an agent cannot approach a player until he has declared he is coming out for the NFL draft.”
The NFLPA certifies agents that represent members of the union and it has the power to decertify an agent (see Tank Black) if he violates their rules. An NFLPA rule that kept agents away from student athletes would be the most effective way imaginable to keep these guys from unduly influencing college student-athletes.
College Football Would Benefit
Keeping agents away from players until they have announced their intentions would help college football programs in a number of ways. First, there would be a huge deterrent to would be agents in terms of giving guys things of value when they are still playing college ball. Second, it would help control the information the players get about their draft potential. Ideally they would get more information from their coaches and family who you would hope have nothing but their best interests at heart. That would mean less information from those who are trying to get a certain percentage of their future earnings.
Another positive from this would be the likely reduction in the number of players making poor decisions about the NFL. Too many players leave school early only to go much later in the draft than they had imagined. Some of them don’t get drafted at all and have no options afterwards.
Loophole Still Exists
Even if the NFLPA passes a rule on this issue, it won’t be foolproof. You see the NFLPA certifies and disciplines agents who are required to be certified. However “financial advisors” only take part in NFLPA regulation on a voluntary basis. For a rule prohibiting contact with student-athletes who have not declared for the draft to have real authority, that loophole needs to be closed.
It’s just like the NCAA loophole that baseball prospects exploit openly and brazenly. Since many if not most agents are attorneys, baseball prospects at every level simply have “legal advisors” rather than “agents”. The NCAA looks the other way because it doesn’t make enough money on baseball to consider it worth the effort. Well, that and it would awfully hard to prove that the “legal advisor” acted as an agent unless he or she was stupid enough to openly take part in negotiations.
I would love to see the NFLPA move forward with this idea that Upshaw has brought forward. The union clearly has an interest in making certain players entering the league are doing so under as little pressure and coercion as possible. And if would be agents aren’t fast talking players and their families into thinking they are much more attractive to the NFL than they really are we should see fewer guys declaring for the NFL only to hear their name called in round six or seven or even not at all.