KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation set for passage by the Tennessee General Assembly would bring much-needed order to sports agents’ relationships with college athletes, the athletics director at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville said Friday.
The State Senate has scheduled for final consideration Monday evening a comprehensive bill that requires prospective sports agents to register with the state and provides for civil relief if an agent’s or athlete’s actions result in financial loss or suspension of competition due to NCAA rules violations. The senate’s vote would come hours after this weekend’s NFL college draft.
“The most important impact of this legislation will be the ability of our coaches and athletes to know who is authorized to operate legally as a sports agent in Tennessee,” Doug Dickey, UT men’s athletics director, said.
“We want to say to sports agents, ‘If you want to register and obey the rules, we will try to help you manage your affairs with our athletes. If you tamper with our athletes improperly, there will be very serious consequences.”‘
Dickey said he sees a parallel between the bill and the process colleges use to recruit high school athletes.
“There is an organized process in high school recruiting that is better than the totally disorganized hit-when-you-want-to-hit process of the current agent-player relationship in professional sports,” he said. “Eighty to 90 percent of the agents are fine. But when you are dealing with 10 to 20 percent who want to operate in the shadows, there is a serious problem for athletes and the university.”
Philip Fulmer, UT head football coach, and basketball coach Kevin O’Neill said they endorse the state legislation.
Under the proposed legislation, agents and their representatives would pay an annual $250 permit fee and post a $15,000 bond with the secretary of state. Licensed attorneys representing athletes are considered agents under the bill’s provisions.
Tennessee colleges and universities can seek financial compensation from the agent or athlete if they suffer:
* Loss of revenue from media coverage of a game or match.
* Loss of ticket sales.
* Loss of the right to grant an athletic scholarship.
* Loss to recruit athletes.
* Prohibition of post-season competition.
* Forfeit of a game or contest.
* Loss of proceeds from revenue-sharing agreements.
* Any adverse financial impact.
Agents could be charged with a felony if they offer, give or loan anything of value to a college athlete or if they enter into a contract with an athlete without giving prior notices required by the bill.
Provisions of the law would apply to all agents regardless of whether they live in Tennessee.
Sen. Bud Gilbert (R-Knoxville) and Rep. Frank Buck (D-Dowelltown) sponsored the legislation.
Contact: Doug Dickey (423-974-1224)