Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts On Confessions Of An Agent

On Friday, I linked to Confessions of an agent, in which ex-agent Josh Luchs admitted to doing all the dirty shit we already knew many agents were doing--in particular, paying college players. $500 monthly seemed to be a sweet spot for many of the players he was trying to build loyalty with so that they would sign with him when they graduated.

This is been going on since, well, forever, but some people are still surprised. The question is: why?

College football players with NFL potential represent an artificially undercompensated labor market. Their earnings are literally zero while they're in the NCAA, even though they will be doing the same thing for (potentially) millions of dollars the next year in the NFL.

From a market sense, that's just stupid.

In a situation like that, of course they're going to get paid under the table. They have been, they are, and they will be in the future.

What this does, though, is put the NCAA in a very awkward position.

They don't want to pay players directly. Agents, in an incredibly embarrassing way, are helping the NCAA--by compensating quite a few players, they've made it much less likely that players would ever try to organize and demand some kind of salary from the NCAA.

Now, though, the NCAA is in the position of being forced to crack down. Well, crack down to the degree that their incredibly tiny enforcement staff allows (if the NCAA were really serious, they'd spend more money on enforcement, wouldn't they?).

Here's a thought, though, on agents paying players: let them.

Create an allowed compensation scale not exceeding, say, $1,000 dollars a month. An agent can register with the NCAA, and a player can register and receive payment.

There's no quid pro quo--if the player doesn't sign with the agent after college, tough nuts for the agent.

Now, if you create a system like this, which answers all the complaints about "walking around money" that players have, there should also be relatively draconian punishments. If a player is accepting unregistered compensation, then ban that player. If an agent is giving a player unregistered compensation, ban the agent, and the NFL should ban him as well.

The NCAA wouldn't be paying the money, but the players would be getting paid. Not what they're worth, certainly, but it would all but eliminate financial desperation (greed can never be eliminated). And it would make the game less dirty, because college football, all too often, is like sausage: you might love to eat it, but seeing the manufacturing process would make you sick.

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