SBJ/March 18 - 24, 2002/Labor Agents

Officials ask whether agent got clients before license

Florida state officials are trying to find out whether sports agent and former Jacksonville Jaguars senior vice president Michael Huyghue contacted and signed players from Florida's top college football programs before receiving an agent's license.

"We are investigating allegations of unlicensed activity by this particular athlete agent," said Lonnie Parizek, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. "We are just now starting the investigation."

A document provided by the department states, "It is alleged that subject has contacted and signed contracts to represent student athletes at [Florida State University], [University of Florida], and [University of Miami] before receiving his license."

The department wouldn't release information on the source of the allegations.

Under Florida law, anyone who recruits a student athlete "for any type of financial gain" must be licensed. Penalties for violation range from as little as a "letter of guidance" to revocation of the agent's license, Parizek said.

Michael Huyghue, an agent since January.

"We did inform Mr. Huyghue he was under investigation on the alleged activity," Parizek said, "but there is no other information other than that."

Huyghue, who left the Jaguars to open Axcess Sports & Entertainment in November, said he has done nothing wrong.

On Thursday, Huyghue said he and state investigator Robert Cook "bumped into each other" Wednesday at an NFL scouting workout at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Huyghue said he learned that a complaint had been filed but heard no mention of an investigation.

Investigators are waiting to find "enough sufficiency in the complaint to warrant an investigation," Huyghue said.

Huyghue told SportsBusiness Journal on Jan. 10 that Axcess had signed three University of Miami players — including Phillip Buchanon, who is expected to be a top draft pick — to documents he called "company forms."

When he gave that interview, Huyghue had not taken the Florida agents test or the certification test from the NFL Players Association, which oversees NFL agents.

Huyghue, who negotiated player contracts while with the Jaguars, passed the Florida agents test Jan. 17 and received the license the next day, Parizek said.

The NFLPA gave its certification test on Jan. 11 and informed the agents of the results in late January, said NFL agents.

Huyghue said the NFLPA told him he could begin signing clients to standard representation forms after Jan. 24. He said he was able to sign the Miami players to the "company forms" because he had received "provisional certification" from the NFLPA.

"We were told provisionally we could do that at the time," Huyghue said. "We could not hold ourselves out as certified agents."

NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen tells a different story.

"There is no such thing as a provisional certification," Berthelsen said. "We are aware of [the state investigation], and if and when the authorities provide us with evidence that he committed a Florida state law violation, the matter will be turned over to our disciplinary committee."

Devan Stuart writes for The Business Journal in Jacksonville.

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