Former agent's admission shines light on NCAA enforcement

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The NCAA can’t eliminate improprieties between college football players and sports agents alone, and needs the help of former players, coaches and the National Football League, a spokesman for the Indianapolis-based organization acknowledged on Wednesday.

The NCAA’s efforts to enforce rules barring players from accepting benefits from agents have come under fire from sports analysts following the recent admission by a former agent that he paid players.

Josh Luchs told Sports Illustrated for its Oct. 18 issue that he paid more than 30 players from 1990 to 1996, including many who didn’t sign with him.

College athletics has been rife with scandals and shady dealings for years. But Luchs’ confession perhaps shines the brightest light on an enforcement system that some say is ineffective.

“You’ve got to get everyone on the same page working together,” ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on the "Mike & Mike in the Morning" radio program. “The NCAA is outmanned.”

Herbstreit, echoing the sentiments of NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn, said college football coaches and the NCAA need to work more closely together to prevent unscrupulous agents from getting access to players.

Luchs once worked with Gary Wichard, the agent linked to the investigation of NCAA violations at North Carolina. The university kicked one player off the team on Monday while the NCAA declared two others “permanently ineligible” amid an ongoing investigation into whether players received improper benefits from agents, according to Associated Press.

And, last month, New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush returned the 2005 Heisman Trophy he received while at the University of Southern California. An NCAA investigation concluded that he and his family received hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from sports agents when he played for USC.

“We have a strong understanding that there are issues out there,” Osburn said. “We also know there isn’t an easy solution, and it’s going to require collaboration and cooperation from a lot of different groups.”

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has jurisdiction over athletes but not agents, who are certified by the National Football League Players Association.

Osburn said the NCAA the past summer began engaging the NFL and its players association, as well as former players, agents, scouts and coaches to bolster its enforcement efforts.

Herbstreit suggested the NCAA mandate that college football programs appoint someone on staff to specifically monitor player-agent relationships.

Michael Wilbon, a co-host of ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption" television show, went a step further and lobbied the NCAA to let colleges pay their football players a small, monthly stipend.

“Most of these [player] payments are for 100, 200, 300 bucks,” he said. “If you take away the taboo, there won’t be the attraction.”

Critics of that proposal say payments of any type would create a slippery slope.

The NCAA began devoting employees solely to enforcing player-agent rules more than 10 years ago, Osburn said. The staff of seven is part of a larger NCAA enforcement team consisting of 46 employees.

The proliferation of social networking has given the NCAA an additional tool to investigate potential violations, with Twitter and Facebook accounts, in particular, often providing a trail of evidence.

Said Osburn: “It’s definitely influenced our ability to gather information.”


  • much needed
    Dr.Argovitz you are addressing an issue i have known for quite some time. i can appreciate your courage for bringing out greately needed information. If you are putting together a team to get this information out i would like to be apart of it.
  • Change the gam
    The NCAA has established rules and regulations that prevent student-athletes from earning honest spending money during their collegiate careers. Many of our participating athletes come from financially disadvantaged homes with no family to support them or provide any spending money necessary for a college student to survive and enjoy the social environment and benefits of the university experience. How can it be possible in America for this form of indentured servitude to be ignored for so long by the NCAA? Are they arrogant, insensitive, or just plain greedy? How can the system grow so disproportionately in the financial favor of the NCAA â?? to the tune of billions in revenue â?? while the impoverished athlete is imprisoned to a dorm for a four-year sentence? Itâ??s not fair. Iâ??m not here to throw rocks; Iâ??m here to call attention to the inconsistencies to the NCAA, which is offering no solution to an age-old problem. We plan to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
    • Why is no one saying this?
      Why is it that everyone here looks at this as an issue for the NCAA and their member institutions and NOT the NFL, NBA and MLB? Frankly, most of the "student athletes" don't care whether or not they are going to be declared ineligible - if they are good enough to go on to the next level, they will, period.

      The leagues need to start banning these scum-bag agents. If they put a rule in place stating that anyone who is found to have broken the rules cannot represent players, then this will stop. Hurt the agents in their pockets (because, frankly, that is all they care about), and they will get in line.

      Unfortunately, you have too many greedy organizations involved, and something that will make sense will never be implemented.
    • Agents
      I read the article; heard him speak on ESPN; and, also heard Boras speak on ESPN this morning. Boras was brilliant. Schools should provide legal assistance to the athlete. Students with academic scholarships have none of the restrictions athletic scholarships carry.

      Boras says what every knows: the student athlete is essentially an employee and the schools are reticent to raise the ante.
    • pay up
      Time to start paying the players....plain and simple. I'm not talking about exhorborant amounts of money. The schools and everyone involved are raking in millions while the actual people responsible for this are getting left in the dark.

      Sure, a scholarship is helpful, but it doesn't pay their rent or buy food, and some of these players come from extremely poor backgrounds. I don't blame these players one bit for taking what they can get especially if its going to help their family even if this isn't always the case.

      If a future draft pick was earning $5,000 bucks a semester would this really be that criminal. If the NCAA doesn't pay them agents and coaches will. If your mom needed few hundred bucks every month for rent and you knew you could get it from an agent, wouldn't you ask for it.

      Time to give the players what they deserve instead of stuffing the pockets over the overpaid ncaa officials and BCS execs.


      • Doh!
        Did IBJ's web editor work for The Onion previously? Love those sub heads:

        # NCAA, NBA launch iHoops to promote sport of basketball to future players, fans

        That's rich...

      • Sensible
        Bob, your post makes too much sense and contains too many truths; hence, it will either be ignored, or blasted as "radical" thinking.
        • what about excessive summer job pay?
          In the end, the NCAA can't make people be honest. We have students given summer jobs that have very good pay, schools that hire parents of star students, and unlimited other issues.

          Perhaps the NCAA should work on seeing the students don't miss so much class-room work by allowing flying the team to games rather than the long bus trips. Another idea for the money driven NCAA would be consistent schedules for teams. Every Thursday and Saturday would see students able to spend more time as students.

        • NCAA - Show me the money
          Reggie Bush rakes in the cash, gets a house and a high dollar whip and nobody noticed? That's because no one was looking; and, those who were didn't care.

          The school was placed on probation and lost 30 or so scholarships and people say that's a loss to the school?

          The students who would have gotten those scholarships lost out. Sure, letâ??s punish some nameless kid in the future because it's a helluva lot easier than punishing the AD, coach and university presidents.

          When offending university and college presidents have their paychecks nicked and are sanctioned from getting other jobs in NCAA schools, this stuff will stop. Not before.

          Everybody (NCAA, presidents, coaches and ADs) make millions off these kids. Shouldn't the players should get a cut, too?

          Since the NCAA is the presidents, what's the likelihood of that happening? Everybody benefits from this indentured servant system; so, don't hold your breath waiting for change. But spare us the sanctimonious NCAA talking heads bemoaning the current state of affairs.

          Anyone with a brain knows that schools are defacto farm clubs for the pros. Let's make everybody honest by creating another NCAA class with NBA and NFL subsidies and player pay - where academic eligibility requirements are removed saving the cost of basket weaving curricula wherein no one fails.

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