SBJ/Nov. 1, 2010/This Week's Issue

Letters on UNC investigation stir up agents

News that an employee of Drew Rosenhaus, one of the most powerful agents in the NFL, had been named in a document related to an NCAA investigation grabbed headlines and created a buzz in the agent community.

But the exact nature of what the employee, Michael Katz, was alleged to have done, let alone whether it rises to the level of triggering NFL Players Association discipline, is unclear.

In documents released to the press Oct. 22 by the University of North Carolina, Katz, the director of marketing and client services at Rosenhaus Sports, was one of three people named in letters that UNC sent to the NCAA. Those letters provided some information about UNC’s investigation of allegations that its student athletes received extra benefits from agents and others in violation of NCAA rules.

The letters contain two sentences regarding Katz and wristbands allowing entry to a pool party, but redactions made before UNC released the documents make it hard to determine much about the allegations.

Drew Rosenhaus said his
employee did not provide
benefits to college players.

For example, one of the letters states, “Additionally (blank) received from (blank) teammate, a wristband to attend a pool party. (Blank) Unbeknownst to (blank) had obtained the wristband from Michael Katz, a known sports agency employee.”

Rosenhaus strongly defended Katz. “At no time did my employee provide any benefits to any college players,” Rosenhaus said. “I have talked to my employee and he has assured me that the allegations are false.”

One source told SportsBusiness Journal the actual allegation is that Katz directed one college player where to get a wristband to gain entry into the pool area of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach on the Sunday of this year’s Memorial Day weekend, rather than giving the player the wristband. Katz denied that he did even that, this source said. Attempts to verify this account with other sources were unsuccessful.

The 19 pages of UNC documents name two other people who the school says provided benefits. According to the letters, Todd Stewart, a person tied to financial advisers, paid for hotel rooms, and Chris Hawkins, a former UNC athlete, was involved in a number of activities, including acting as a middleman for agents and financial advisers. The letters also say unnamed financial advisers provided meals.

Attempts to contact Stewart and Hawkins for comment were unsuccessful.

Rosenhaus represents between 100 and 150 NFL players, many of whom have close friendships with him. He is, however, disliked by many agents and several of them told SportsBusiness Journal that they wanted the NFLPA to investigate Rosenhaus.

The NFLPA would not comment on whether it was investigating the allegation.

The NFLPA rules hold agents responsible for the acts of their employees and prohibit agents from providing inducements to players to sign them as clients, among other things.

But the due process rights afforded agents under NFLPA rules and those afforded student athletes under NCAA rules are vastly different. Under NCAA rules, only the university, not the athlete, is allowed to appeal NCAA discipline. Under NFLPA rules, agents have a number of rights, including the ability to appeal any proposed punishment before an arbitrator. NFLPA discipline can range from a letter of reprimand to decertification.

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