SBJ/Dec. 16-22, 2013/Labor and Agents

Oregon agent law to cover marketing agents, financial advisers

Liz Mullen
Under a new, tougher agent law in Oregon, marketing agents and financial advisers, in addition to playing-contract agents, can be prosecuted if they sign a student athlete and are not registered with both the state and the student athlete’s school.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, about the same time many agents will be competing to sign college football players for the 2014 NFL draft. The Oregon law amends the Uniform Athlete Agents Act and is legislation that Jeff Hawkins, the University of Oregon’s senior associate athletic director for football administration and operations, has been pursuing for four years.

The law, which will grow tougher Jan. 1, covers those looking to represent Oregon and Oregon State athletes, among others.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Among other things, the new law:

Broadens the definition of who is an agent to anyone who profits from representing an athlete.

Requires that the Oregon attorney general enforce the law, rather than relying on district attorneys.

Requires that the athlete representatives register with the schools as well as the state.

Hawkins said he will be watching to see who signs Oregon athletes and will check to make sure they are registered as required by the new law. He added that agents who violate the law will do so at their own peril.

“I will seek them out,” Hawkins said last week. “I will hunt them down and report them.”

Agents have been privately complaining all fall that a number of universities are preventing them from contacting or meeting with college football players they are trying to recruit. Oregon is one of those schools.

Hawkins said that during the football season, Ducks football players could speak to agents on the phone. “They can talk to agents,” Hawkins said. “They just can’t meet face to face with them.”
 
Hawkins said the university has allowed football players to hold agent interviews after the regular season, which ended for the Ducks Nov. 29. Oregon also has offered to help the students and their families conduct the interviews and has given the student athletes a list of questions to ask agents, including who their current clients are and whether they have been fired.

Oregon plays in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 30, after which players can sign with an agent for the draft.

> UNC OVERSEES INTERVIEWS: The University of North Carolina is another school that has worked to oversee agent interaction with student athletes. Earlier this month, athletic department officials were present at meetings between UNC football players and agents, said Paul Pogge, UNC associate athletic director.

“This past weekend, I spent like 17 hours in meetings,” Pogge said last week. The school was facilitating agent meetings with football players for a week-and-a-half period after the Tar Heels’ last regular-season game on Nov. 30. UNC plays in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 28.

In March, Pogge sent a letter to agents and other athlete representatives informing them that all communication with student athletes, including phone calls, must be pre-approved by the athletic department compliance office and the appropriate head coach.

In addition to the recent agent meetings, UNC supervised agent meetings between January and July, Pogge said.

Five individuals, including NFL agent Terry Watson, who has been suspended from representing players by the NFL Players Association, are being prosecuted in North Carolina for alleged violations of the Uniform Athlete Agents Act involving contact with UNC football players in 2010.

> EXCEL SIGNS LIVINGSTON: Excel Sports Management has signed Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston for representation. Jeff Schwartz, an Excel agent and company president, and agent Sean Kennedy will represent Livingston. He was formerly represented by CAA Sports.

> CASSPI LEAVES CAA SPORTS: Houston Rockets forward Omri Casspi has left CAA Sports. It was not known whether he had signed with a new agency as of last week.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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