September 13, 2004

Wyden, ex-Nebraska Football Coach Osborne, and Rep. Gordon pass law to clean up sports agents recruitment of college athletes

NCAA, Oregon universities supported legislation requiring full disclosure to athletes, athletic departments

Washington, DC Legislation stopping sports agents from using unfair tactics when attempting to sign student-athletes to contracts has passed the U.S. Senate and will now become law. Wyden introduced the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA) on June 3, 2003; the House and Senate have now passed identical legislation authored on the House side by former University of Nebraska football coach Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.) and Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn). Student-athletes can lose scholarships or be barred from playing, and entire athletic teams can be disqualified from competing when sports agents use flashy gifts, unenforceable promises, or incomplete information to lure student athletes into signing agency contracts while still in school. The bill requires sports agents to make specified disclosures to student athletes and athletic departments about agency agreements.The passage of this legislation is good news for student athletes and their universities, said Wyden. This bill will stop unscrupulous agents from derailing the academic and sports careers of our student athletes and prevent them from damaging university athletic programs in the process.Laws governing the practices of sports agents vary from state to state, with 17 states having no such laws at all. While Oregon law protects student athletes in the state, the lack of a national law means no safeguard exists for Oregon athletes when traveling to other states. The legislation has received the support of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and three Oregon universities.It is great to hear that this positive legislation is moving through. It ensures the integrity of the process as these young student athletes consider their professional career options, said Bob De Carolis, Director of Athletics at Oregon State University.University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer called the legislation an important and welcome step in the right direction. I am pleased that with Senator Wyden's help, this bill will become law and protect both athletic programs and student athletes from deceptive practices that might jeopardize their academic or athletic endeavors.We would like to commend Sen. Wyden in his efforts to protect student athletes and their interests from unscrupulous sports agents, said Tom Berman, Athletic Director at Portland State University.The SPARTA legislation forbids sports agents from:? Giving false or misleading information to a student athlete;? Making false or misleading promises or misrepresentations to a student-athlete;? Providing anything of value to the student or any individual associated with the student, including friends and family;? Failing to disclose in writing that the student may lose eligibility to compete as a student-athlete if he or she signs an agency contract; and,? Predating or postdating contracts.SPARTA would also require both agent and athlete to notify the athletic director at the students school within 72 hours of a signed contract.Violations of the law will be enforced under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act as unfair or deceptive acts or practices punishable by fines of up to $11,000 per incident to be paid by the sports agent.The bill now goes to the President for his signature.