Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not-So-Se-cret---AaaaGENT MAaaN!

Let's have a small background to this story... Back when my winter break first started about a month ago, I was brainstorming yet again with my boyfriend. I brought up my Yao Ming idea, which eventually became a post, and he brought up student-athletes and agency/contracts. At first I thought, how on EARTH could I pull this one off? Well, many developments have come forth since, including a very intense phone debate that lasted well over an hour and I went and took no notes on this. Let's just say I wasn't the only person disappointed that I didn't capitalize on this. But who cares? I have a good memory, and I can present both sides of the argument. If I forget the other side, someone will just have to get a phone call. But anyway, let's go into the realm of student-athletes and their drafting scenarios, contracts, and the idea of giving these student-athletes agents in their college years.

Welcome to the Land of Opportunity, when in order to succeed prematurely, it's absolutely necessary to drop everything else you've worked for in the process order to get your dream job a la immediate gratification.

For those who don't normally follow college sports, they might find the idea of giving student-athletes an agent or a contract during their college seasons to be completely preposterous.  In today's age, where money just happens to have a slight correlation to "happiness," people have ideas that they might find NFL-caliber deals to be an effective tool in preparing student-athletes for what's to come after they complete their education. But who ever said that it was completely necessary to complete--or even have--a college education?

Let's play a game of scenarios here: say for instance that you're a very talented basketball player with average smarts and currently a junior in college. You're drafted in the first round and offered a huge contract in the process. You haven't finished college, but you have a chance to live your dream in the NBA. What do you do? Do you take the contract and sign with the team, or do you stay in school, go back into the draft for the next year, and graduate?
There are a lot of choices that come from this. You can finally live the dream even without an education to boot, and something like that is hard to come by these days. However, you might catch the "overhype syndrome" or the case of Chris Washburn and waste the privilege of the high life. On the other hand, you can stay in school, have an even better college year, go back into the draft at a higher pick, and get an even bigger deal. Here's a problem with this choice--you could sustain a serious injury and kill this whole idea all together.

So what do you do?

In order to prepare for these cases, many have suggested the early usage of agency and help the men (and women) in the cause to make a good decision while heading into the real world. Does the NCAA agree with this? No they don't. Why? Let's look at some rules: [via NCAA Rule Booklet]

12.3.1 General Rule. An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.
... Presence of a Lawyer at Negotiations. A lawyer may not be present during discussions of a contract offer with a professional organization or have any direct contact (i.e., in person, by telephone or by mail) with a professional sports organization on behalf of the individual. A lawyer's presence during such discussions is considered representation by an agent.
12.3.3 Athletics Scholarship Agent. Any individual, agency or organization that represents a prospective student-athlete for compensation in placing the prospect in a collegiate institution as a recipient of institutional financial aid shall be considered an agent or organization marketing the individual's athletics ability or reputation.

So basically, no incentives, no offers, and no extra treatment until college is done or if you happen to head out prematurely. We all know what happens when you disobey these rules. For example, Reggie Bush recently gave up his Heisman Trophy that he achieved in 2005. This was due to allegations that he and his family received "gifts" which violates NCAA policy. In turn, every award he had achieved in 2005 was revoked as well. Brutal, yes.
This past year, there was also a great deal of controversy in the case of Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton. Supposedly, his father was soliciting money from "bigger-named colleges" because it supposedly had to take more than a scholarship to keep his son's talents. However, there appeared to be insufficient evidence of this act, and Newton was later reinstated in the running for awards and recognition and was later named the Heisman winner for this past season. Still, the problem was there, and someone (in this case, Cam's dad Cecil) got hurt in the process.

In my view, the idea of agency in NCAA would take way too much money to operate. Of course, you have the really big and powerful Division I teams and players, but doesn't that mean you would be showing special treatment to the higher divisions around the whole country?
The original idea conjured up by my argument partner was that agents should be designated to work at certain colleges. Hello? Wouldn't it take money out of the athletic program, let alone the school itself, to hire them and pay them royalties and dues to the University or College? Not only that, there's a huge issue that comes with hiring agents. It would look as if you're only giving the special treatment to Division I teams and leave Division II and III teams in the dusk when they might actually have very decent athletes on their respective squads. Who knows? They could actually get drafted.
In this day and age, people in every profession want money, cash, more money, and moolah. Wait...all of that is money. Yeah. Like I said, they want big bucks. It just wouldn't be possible in any school's budget. Life just happens to be rough like that.

I was asked the question of what would I do if I played a college sport and was drafted in the first round out of my junior year and was given the opportunity to drop everything for a huge salary. Well, me being a female, that's nearly impossible because many women in professional sports in the United States have second jobs and would only get a real professional salary in the WNBA as scary as that sounds. Anyway, I answered that I would wait the extra year. In many cases, there are people out there that might not exactly want to play a sport for the rest of their life; their heart might not be into it completely even though they do enjoy it as a general pasttime. Sure, if the big opportunity is there, you should take it. But what if you wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer [or a broadcaster like me] or any other thing? Unless if your mind can be changed right away, "just follow your heart--that's what I always do." Thanks, Napoleon Dynamite.
Just look at Stanford University's Andrew Luck. He was second in Heisman voting behind Cam Newton, is a junior, and is doing something super brainy along the lines of engineering. He's choosing to stay in school and skip out on the draft coming up in a few months. Why? He wants to finish in spring 2012 (like me!! haaa). I guess you get rare cases like this where people may love to play but have another love that they're willing to wait for. Now think--if he had an agent, would that have happened? You can't be so sure.

This is a really controversial topic that is still under review, and to be honest, I don't ever think it's going to float. It's a very big deal in the case of salary and collegiate values, and making it all about money and less of the wait and the talent nearly spoils the magic of college sports. These men and women have something to fight for, something to play toward. If they get a contract shoved in their face and they really don't want it because they're interested in another field, why should you as a school bother to hire agents for your student athletes? I'll admit, I do enjoy watching college sports over the professional sports sometimes because of the magic of natural talent and no thoughts of losing a contract or getting optioned or traded elsewhere. In college, all you have to do is get decent enough grades to keep playing. The scholarships, grants, and financial aid should do the rest. Then, when you get your career, that's when your cash flow comes in and you can handle the loans and the desire to get a Ferrari and get your parents a nice home on a remote island far away from you.

College sports: the best thing since a chastity belt. 
Don't you think the players should wear this on their uniforms?

I'm just kidding.

I think I've made my point here.

Oh, and because I poked at the song Secret Agent Man, here's a picture of Johnny Rivers and the song. It's the least I could do for you people.


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