Agents Paying off Players: A Shady Business

Posted: October 21, 2010 in NCAA Football

…I thought it would be interesting to write about this ever growing problem in college sports. In case you haven’t heard, Sports Illustrated recently conducted an interview with a former sports agent, Josh Luchs, and he revealed that he for years, paid college football players, before they signed their 1st professional contracts. Several players are said to have confirmed it with Sports Illustrated.

Josh said he paid more than 30 players in the 90’s including some of them who didn’t sign with him upon becoming professionals. Claims he paid Washington State QB Ryan Leaf about $10,000 and though Ryan paid most of it back, Ryan himself hasn’t confirmed it. Santonio Holmes is also said to have taken money, but he too denied. Several different players like Jonathan Ogden confirmed the account of the story, where he says that he wouldn’t take money but accepted Janet Jackson concert tickets. Keshawn Johnson declined to take the money so did J.J. Stokes when he was at UCLA.

So a lot of players are talking about this and many are confirming exactly what Josh said. Holmes, a former Ohio State Buckeye, says he’s lying, but I’m sure it’s true. I mean Sports Illustrated surely checks this stuff before publishing it; you’re not going to run this and get a liable lawsuit. Yet I always find myself going back and asking “am I shocked?”  When I read stories like this and the answer is, absolutely not! I’m shocked that more stories like this don’t come out. I’ve never believed that it’s possible in college football, under the current system, to run a clean program and clean being perfect.

Just say this out loud, this is one of the things I usually touch upon in my rants, “mostly poor kids, not allowed to work while under scholarship, with potential huge earnings in the horizon, offered cash right before their 1st big contract that they can pay back…wouldn’t you take it?” I mean, some kids are going to take that bait! To me it’s always been about “stop blaming the kids entirely”. Now there is some culpability on the players, you have to be accountable for what you do, but make the penalty harsher for the agents. Like, go after the drug dealer not the user. There is going to be an endless supply of drug users. Why waste man hours chasing every dirt bag loser on the street that uses drugs? Kill the source!!

I mean, if the government wanted to end porn, are you going to go and knock on each door individually “hey Larry…get off the website!” No! You go to the sources that are creating and providing porn. So we always destroy the kids on stories like this. There name goes out there, they are the ones who are stars. It really destroys the kid’s reputation…and that’s fine, because you have to be culpable. But we need to focus our energy on the agents. Why don’t you see this problem in college baseball? Because the great players go straight to the pro’s. But you would see the problem in college baseball if they didn’t.

So most college athletes don’t even want to go to college, many are forced to go to college because they want to be professional football players or basketball players. Maybe a kid at Duke wants to go to school more than a kid at Georgia, but it seems to me that a lot of these kids are football majors. So if you’re trying to go after each individual kid, it’s like chasing down drug users instead of the drug cartel.

If you don’t go to the ports in Los Angeles or to the ports in Miami and the ports in New York or New Orleans and stop drug cartels from putting drugs in our ports, you’re going to have drug users. Some kids just get slammed for this, like Santonio Holmes and Ryan Leaf. Poor kids, want a little scratch, with a huge payday in the horizon, they will pay it back, they don’t think anybody is going to find out…guess what? Some of them take scratch…what a shock!

I’ve always believed that if you want to stop cheating in college sports, you have to create real legislation, prison sentences, loss of licenses, make it a real crime in society. We’ve got John McCain chasing down boxing, why can’t John McCain chase a real issue? If It was a federal prison term you had to serve if you pay college athletes, it would end right there…it would all end right there! But instead every year I’m reading about a story like this that breaks the newswire. If I would’ve grown up dirt poor, had no money, 4 years in college, not allowed to have a job because I’m under scholarship and somebody hands me a $1000 when I know I’m going to make $ 2.5 million in 3 weeks time…I’m taking the money!

Tim Brown had an interview with ESPN radio, he told a great story. He said he was at Notre Dame, he had no money, won the Heisman Trophy and he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He said he took the picture of himself with the Heisman Trophy on the cover of Sports Illustarted to a Porsche dealer in South Bend, Indiana and said to the manager “I’m going to be rich, here is my note, can I have a Porsche” and they gave it to him! He then paid it back after striking it big in the NFL.

But here, you’re talking about young kids, mostly poor, here is a little cash. It’s like getting a loan; it’s almost an illegal loan. If you want to stop illegal loans, go after the banks that are giving the illegal loans. Don’t go to starving people who have kids to feed, because people are going to do what they have to do to make money. Start blaming the bankers, don’t blame the consumer. Because if the bank don’t offer it, the consumer doesn’t have any money. I saw this story come out and I was saddened by it. For the record, they are doing it right now, right now there are agents all over campuses. The story goes onto say that Santonio Holmes was taking money from an agent for years!

I can pretty much guarantee you that every major football program in the US has got at least a player taking money on the side from somebody. But, unless it’s a crime, he’s taking that money and there is only one way to stop agents…cut off their hands, loss of license, prison sentences.

So unless you’re going to punish these agents, this stuff is just going to keep happening and happening. I was talking about this with a friend last week and apparently it was also talked about on Real Sports on HBO. It’s so ambiguous. USC has one guy who cheated and they take away 30 scholarships and try to ruin the program. Florida has got 30 guys who’ve been arrested; the NCAA doesn’t care at all.

Like if you worked at a company and the company had 30 people arrested within 4 years, people would turn to you and say “dude, your company is a mess and its out of control” If you had one guy who took money, people would come up to you and say “you’ve got a great company, though that one guy needs the boot” I mean USC, one dude gone haywire and they tried to ruin the program. Florida has got 30 guys out of control, NCAA…crickets. So the story by Sports Illustrated, has been confirmed by some of the players, that a former sports agent told the magazine, it’s on the cover, that he paid college football players early in his career and several of them have confirmed it to the magazine. According to the story, he paid 30 guys between 1990 – 1996 and I honestly believe that this stuff still goes on today.

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