Your move, NCAA

It’s no secret that the agents who operate by the letter of the law and NCAA rules are at a competitive disadvantage in acquiring new clients. Those who play in the grey area can be extremely successful. Those who cheat outright, well, they can be even more successful. That’s how it’s been working for a long time.

However, it looks like somebody got really greedy and sloppy in the recruiting process of some players from North Carolina and other schools. Even the seasoned agents who do cheat wouldn’t have screwed this one up as bad as it looks right now. They’re too cunning to do so. I believe, though, that some financial and marketing reps may have gone overboard with their concierge services in trying to impress some high profile recruits. Trust me, folks, this could turn out to be a very ugly mess for a lot of people in the pro services industry. If all the details surface, there can be some high profile agents, financial firms, and even coaches who get whacked on this one.

Butch DavisICON“If we can keep the agents away, we could have one hell of a year.” - Butch Davis, UNC Football Head Coach

UNC head coach Butch Davis recently told a few boosters, “If we can keep the agents away, we could have one hell of a year.” Unfortunately, he could not fend them off. It’s virtually impossible for the staff to control every single player’s actions.

Anytime there is a collection of top-round picks on one team, a feeding frenzy develops in trying to sign that class. Agents, financial advisors, and marketing reps converge on the campus. They work every angle to get to the players, their friends and their families. Once they’re in the door, they’re hard to get rid of. The agent community has a good idea who the perpetrators are, but we have no tangible proof, no smoking gun. The only ones who can shut them down are the players, by coming clean with every detail. However, they have little incentive to do so.

Even though hundreds of tips have been sent to the NFLPA and the NCAA on who the unscrupulous industry culprits are, they have rarely resulted in punishments. For one, the NCAA does not have any authority over the professionals, and the NFLPA doesn’t have an enforcement arm. However, right now, the NCAA has a golden opportunity to ID some of the biggest cheaters in the business. The dots can be easily connected back to the violators, but only if the guilty players cooperate.

I would suggest to the NCAA that they offer “a deal” to all players who have taken illegal benefits. They usually focus on punishing the program, while they should be focusing on the root of the problem. I would offer a maximum of a one, two, or three game suspension, depending on the severity of the infraction, if the players start naming names and giving details. The more the player cooperates, the more lenient they should be. If a player is in fear of losing all his eligibility, he will be incentivized to tell all. On the other hand, if he feels like he can get away with it or that he’s going to be suspended for the rest of his senior or junior season, he has no incentive to sing.

The fact that we have an incident that occurred prior to the start of the season give the NCAA a chance to be proactive on this one. However, they have to work faster than usual. It can’t take three years this time. Once they get the needed evidence from the players, it should then be turned over to the NFLPA and the respective states so they can carry out their disciplinary procedures.

The young men, who were weak and got seduced by the dark figures and temptations in our industry, have a chance to help change it for the better. Let's hope they will. Would you?

Follow me on Twitter: @jackbechta

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