By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The Division I Amateurism Cabinet is endorsing concepts that would help schools inform student-athletes about involvement with agents and whether to pursue a professional sports career.
At its fall meeting, the cabinet proposed an NCAA Agent Registration Program, which would require agents to register and would provide student-athletes and NCAA schools with agent contact information, employee lists and any disciplinary actions against individual agents. All information would be verified by NCAA personnel.
Cabinet members also favor a companion program, called the National Professional Sports Counseling Panel, to advise elite-level student-athletes on not only the viability of a future professional career but also timing, contract details, agent interaction and other aspects of pursuing professional sports. Many institutions offer similar panels locally, but few student-athletes avail themselves of the service because of the perception of bias.
The registration program would allow the NCAA to create a database of individuals who would trigger the NCAA definition of an agent. It also would be populated by various professional league players associations’ registered agents and advisors. Any individual who wants to represent a prospective or enrolled student-athlete would be required to register with the NCAA and provide the information requested. Agents would review and update their registrations annually.
The secure, web-based program would replace the individual agent registries on some campuses, creating a one-stop shop for agents who would like to represent student-athletes from more than one school. The NCAA program also would be updated regularly to provide the most recent information to schools and student-athletes.
The NCAA staff could provide education about NCAA rules to agents at the time of registry, ensuring that all agents and advisors receive the same information pertaining to agent activities, regardless of what education comes through sport or professional league players associations.
While cabinet members recognized that making the program mandatory for agents might require penalties for institutions or eligibility consequences for student-athletes who work with agents not in the registry, they reasoned that without penalties, the program would be difficult to enforce and might not be effective.
As for the National Professional Sports Counseling Panel, the cabinet envisions a partnership to get expert professional athletes or former professional athletes to sit join legal experts and others from within the collegiate ranks. Student-athletes seriously considering a professional athletics career would be provided contact information for the objective panel members.
Curtis Schickner, a baseball student-athlete at UMBC and member of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said student-athletes in all sports with a professional draft are interested in these types of programs.
“There is a need for this advisory committee for student-athletes, primarily for student-athletes who are not the cream of the crop,” he said. “The elite student-athletes will get the information they need, but the kids in the subsequent rounds who may not come from the largest programs and may not know alumni in the professional ranks need to know what life is like as a professional compared to what they can get out of extra time in college.
“The panel can’t just be a bunch of people in the NCAA office. It has to be professionals, somebody who has the experience of being both the college and professional athlete.”
The panels would also help student-athletes review contracts and assist in other aspects of becoming a professional athlete. The cabinet could pursue a regional model, given the volume of student-athletes in all sports who could avail themselves of the services.
Both concepts will be considered more thoroughly at the cabinet’s February meeting.