How to fix the “Agent Problem” in America

In previous posts we have discussed here on the blog about how to solve issues within a game by applying financial punishment for rules infractions.  For those infractions which have mild punishments, such as the game delay fine for teams throwing extra balls on the field to stop matches (teams are only fined a few hundred dollars for this, when literally millions of dollars are sometimes on the line), I have suggested to increase the fine so that teams would be less likely to take the risk of having this happen several times a game.

Last year, there were several university athletic programs in the U.S. which had problems with agents making impermissible contact with student-athletes.  In many cases, such contact can cause for student-athletes as well as the program the student-athlete plays for being punished, having eligibility removed, and other steps which can have a deep impact on the program.  While college athletics is a big business and can not be entirely devoid of this issue, there is a problem of having lots of “rogue” or “street” agents who try to make illegal contact with the players, giving them gifts and other such incentives in the hopes of having that athlete sign with them.  This kind of investment is important because it can mean a significant payout for the agents in the future.

So what is done about these agents making this kind of contact?  Well there are laws in place to try and keep them from making such contact.  These can be enforced by individual states or by the Federal Trade Commission.  However, most states or the FTC were found to have not punished a single agent or any runners (individuals who often make contact and act as a go-between for the agent and player) last year.  Punishment can include fines, suspension and/or revoking of agents licenses.  The state of Texas is one of the few that did punish individuals for illegal contact, collecting a total of $17,000 in fines.  My suggestion: increase the fines, and I don’t know, how about actually enforcing the laws which have been put into place?  I think fining agents and their runners, and making sure the fines are substantial enough will cut back on a lot of the problems (but won’t solve the problem).

The state of Texas is working on a new law which would bring the strictest punishment to those in violation of the law.  The punishment is not a fine, but would be a felony charge that could send someone making such illegal contact to prison for up to ten years.  I find this new law quite excessive, but maybe Texas is fed up with all these agents making such contact.  One thing is for certain, if such a law were to be passed, and if it were actually enforced, I could see agents and runners not wanting to take as many risks in trying to sign players in the state of Texas.

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2 Responses to How to fix the “Agent Problem” in America

  1. Shawn Weisz says:

    On the whole I agree with your assessment that the problem is out of hand. But we have a case of two extremes here.

    On the one hand Texas doesn’t even enforce the laws and rules they have in place. Then they turn around and try to make, what they aren’t enforcing, a felony?

    There seems to be a significant disconnect here! First and foremost they need to get off their butts and enforce the laws they have in place, maybe triple the monetary penalties as a start and then they can go from there.

    Putting a guy in prison for TEN YEARS for simply giving a student athlete some money or “toys” is ludicrous and to call it excessive would be offensive to the term.

  2. nickwatanabe says:

    Well Texas is one of the state’s which has the highest rate of enforcement, so them putting a new law into place makes sense as they do actually police agent infractions to some level.

    I do agree that the ten year felony charge is a bit excessive.

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