and why college athlete cheaters won't prosper
Earlier I posted on CNBC's Darren Rovell interview with sports agent David Falk. Falk laments that the "sports agent business has become so corrupt." Falk made a vague accusation that an unnamed agent paid an unspecified player college player $500,000. Now that the rumor is out there it will undoubtedly pick up steam quickly, particularly since there are only a few likely candidates.
Cheating explains a lot, especially when some event doesn't quite make sense. Examples: A 170-pound shortstop hits 30 home runs; ergo he took steroids. A McDonald's All-American signs with Podunk State U; ergo he was paid. It's like the old joke explaining why Sam Bowie stayed at Kentucky five years. Answer: He didn't want to take a pay cut. It gets a laugh, but was there ever any proof?
Falk's friend says this kid took money from an agent, but why put it out there as rumor rather than produce hard evidence? For sure we know it is an NCAA violation for a college athlete and his family to receive $500,000. There's also a 72% chance that this is a violation of a state's Uniform Athletes Agent Act (UAAA), since it is now against the law in 36 states. The next to last thing I want is for rumors to turn into witchhunts. The last thing I want, however, is for cheating agents to prosper.
I do not agree with every NCAA rule. I have spoken and written extensively about things the NCAA and its members can do to improve college athletics, BUT...I still tell any athlete or parent who listens that it is absolutely foolish to take money from an agent or their representatives.
1) Whatever benefit that is offered is not sufficient compensation to risk their college eligibility. That agent is knowingly exposing an athlete to a minefield of potential hazards (no eligibility = no opportunity to impress pro scouts, lawsuits, etc.)
2) I don't like blanket statements, but here's one: a cheating agent is a bad agent. He can't compete by selling vague concepts such as competency and ethics, so he diverts attention from the real issues and, instead, focuses on cold, hard cash.
3) Payments by agents are not gifts, but loans that must be repaid. $500k might sound like a lot, especially to an unpaid "amateur," but even at a 10% interest rate, this is a $50,000 annual benefit. Chump change to an athlete about to turn pro.
4) Taking money from an agent is a sure-fire way to either sign with a bad agent and/or become a victim of blackmail (see Marcus Camby, Reggie Bush). Cheaters cheat because they believe they won't get caught. However, as the media, rival fans and the Internet become more aggressive, the chances of getting caught, I believe, are increasing. You too can be an NCAA sleuth!!
UPDATE: David Falk explains his "$500,000 and three years too late" comment to Henry Abbott's True Hoop.