Tweet of the Week
By: Michael McCann, Director of Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School; Legal Analyst and SI.com columnist for Sports Illustrated; and NBA TV Legal Analyst
@mccannsportslaw: “NFLPA yesterday voted to rescind ‘Junior Rule’ for agents contacting underclassmen.” March 28, 2012
Passed in 2007 by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the “Junior Rule” prohibited certified sports agents from contacting college football players until the student-athletes were classified as juniors. The rule was passed around the time it surfaced that Reggie Bush and his family received gifts and cash from agents before his junior year at the University of Southern California. Because college players must be out of high school for three years in order to be eligible for the NFL draft, the logic behind the rule was to regulate agents contact with players not even eligible for the draft.
However, the implementation of this rule failed drastically for a number of reasons. First, the NCAA does not prohibit contact with student-athletes and the NFLPA does not have jurisdiction over anyone not certified with the union, which would be college players. Second, many agents eluded the rule by hiring “runners” to recruit for them by going onto campuses and contacting the student-athletes. Hopefully, by rescinding the rule, the NFLPA will be able to better monitor legitimate, certified agents and decrease the amount of “runners” present on college campuses.
In my opinion, the likelihood of this happening is slim to none. With the increasing commercialization of college sports, particularly football, agents, both certified and uncertified, are going to do whatever it takes to sign the biggest stars. It is going to take a concerted team effort between the NCAA, NFLPA, and colleges and universities to enforce any form of regulation. The NFLA seems to have its hands full, so it could be awhile until we see effective change regarding improper agent activity in college sports.