Accepting Payment From Agents Results in Loss of NCAA Eligibility
If you’ve been paying attention to the sporting news in recent months, an inescapable story has been the violations made by college athletes in taking money from agents and thereby voiding their amateur status. These athletes came into contact with professional agents and took money and other incentives for the promise that they would stay exclusive to that agent until it became time to turn professional. These incentives range from a few hundred dollars a month for food and rent to thousands of dollars in lump-sum contracts to sign with that agent while still in college, before the NCAA allows athletes to have financial relations with agents. As a result of these amateur violations, athletes have been declared ineligible to attend their chosen college, been kicked off college teams, and, in the recent case of former USC running back Reggie Bush, been forced to forfeit the Heisman Trophy.
Part of being an NCAA athlete is abiding by some basic rules set forward by the association. Chief among these is that all college athletes maintain their amateur status. Because a college athlete is having his education paid for by the university, it is expected that the athlete is financially comfortable. As a result, athletes must agree not to take money for things such as sponsorship deals, celebrity appearances, or contact with professional sports personnel. The NCAA even enforces rules on how many hours an athlete can work for a company each week. If a player accepts money in any form, even if they do not know they are breaking rules and have no intentions of hiding it from the NCAA, an athlete can be dismissed from the school. Following the 2005 college football season, Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Rhett Bomar and a fellow player were employed as administrative assistants at a local car dealership. When the season began, Bomar was forced to decrease his work hours to make room for football. NCAA officials quickly noticed that Bomar was being paid the same salary that he had been prior to the football season. This led to the discovery that Bomar had been paid for work that he did not do, and as a result, he was dismissed from the Oklahoma football team. If Bomar had taken time to go over the NCAA regulations involving employment, he could have avoided the biggest mistake of his life.
But the hot button issue right now is the paying of players by professional agents. At the beginning of this college football season, it was made public that the stepfather of Reggie Bush, one of the greatest runners in the history of college football, had received nearly $300,000 in payment from sources close to USC to lure him into the Trojan program. In this case, it was not NFL agents providing Bush with financial incentives, but rather representatives from the college itself. The NCAA strictly forbids the paying of high school athletes and has gone as far as to ban schools from participating in a certain sport (such as the SMU football program in 1987) for a period of time. In the case of Reggie Bush, the violations were so severe that he was forced to give back his 2006 Heisman Trophy.
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NCAA athletes now covered for attendance and cost of living expenses.