SBJ/Aug. 4-10, 2014/Labor and Agents

Oregon players place focus on football, not agents

The University of Oregon, a school that features a number of highly touted 2015 NFL draft prospects, is bucking the trend of college football players meeting early with agents.

Although some major football universities are allowing and facilitating agent meetings in the spring and summer months, Jeff “Hawk” Hawkins, Oregon’s director of football operations, says there is no reason for players to meet with an agent now.

Oregon’s Mariota has declined to meet with agents, but his parents are talking with advisers.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

“The vast majority of our players want nothing to do with interacting with an agent,” Hawkins said. “They don’t want to deal with an agent now.”

The football program has the possible No. 1 draft pick for 2015 in quarterback Marcus Mariota, but Hawkins said he polled players and found out they don’t want interaction with an agent. He asked every player how much contact they wanted with agents — none, limited and unlimited — and he gave the most weight to players who are draft eligible and who are truly NFL prospects.

“What we found was that the players who were most sought after by agents [contract advisers, marketing advisers, financial advisers] didn’t want to talk to the agents right now,” Hawkins said. “They all felt it was OK for their parents to talk to them. The players preferred to focus on playing football.”

Agents are interested in interviewing Oregon players because they view the program as having a number of possible players being drafted. But any agents who want to interview Ducks players had better be registered with the state and the school. Hawkins was behind a tough new law that went into effect this year under which agents, financial advisers and marketing representatives can be prosecuted if they are not registered with both the state and the school. 

Hawkins has stated that he will push for prosecution of any prospective athlete representative who breaks that law.

Hawkins is loosening things up a bit in that he’s allowing parents of the players to meet with agents, but Oregon has advised the parents that those meetings must be with agents registered with the school and the state, and that the parents must not accept anything of value — even a cup of coffee — from an agent. Otherwise, players are allowed to meet with agents after the regular season and before a bowl game, if there is one, Hawkins said.

Meanwhile, Hawkins said he is close to Mariota’s family and said they are looking at the possibility of hiring four professionals — a contract agent, a marketing rep, a financial adviser and a tax adviser — if Mariota decides to turn pro after this season.

“They can’t be in bed with each other,” Hawkins said of the four representatives. “And they [the parents] are talking to people, but Marcus doesn’t want anything to do with it at all.”

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