Sports Illustrated published a piece from sports agent Josh Luchs, regarding what everyone already knows: agents pay student athletes large sums of money.
If you were a good player at UCLA, I made a run at you. I tried to get can’t-miss NFL left tackle prospect Jonathan Ogden as a client, but he wouldn’t take my money. He did, however, go with me to a Janet Jackson concert. My girlfriend got two tickets, and I told her, “Sorry, I need those tickets for J.O. He’s a big Janet Jackson fan.” Instead of going to the concert with my girlfriend, I went with a 6’9″ guy who weighed more than 300 pounds and who screamed “Janet!” the whole night like a teenage girl.
The lunches, the money each month, the bail, the concert tickets, those were all NCAA violations, of course, but in my mind I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Doc would say to me, “We ain’t members of the NCAA. We didn’t agree to follow these rules.” I also justified it by remembering that the schools and the NCAA were making money while the players, many of whom came from poor families, weren’t getting anything but an education, which many of them didn’t take seriously. Plus, Doc and I knew that if they didn’t take our money, they would take it from one of the dozens of other agents opening their wallets. Agents have been giving kids money for decades. It was more open in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, before states passed sports-agent laws making it illegal. Now, agents still do it, but they are more secretive and use middlemen. Anyone who thinks it doesn’t go on needs to look at all the schools currently being investigated by the NCAA for contact between players and agents, places like Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. It goes on everywhere.
At some point, the NCAA is going to realize that college football and basketball don’t play by the same rules as the other sports and they’ll wake up and do something about it. For now, though, it’s funny to watch them with their head in the sand.