Will the NFL put a price tag on Agentgate?

By now, I presume you’ve heard about the dismissals of Marvin Austin, Greg Little and Robert Quinn from North Carolina.  Based on the information furnished by the school, there’s little surprise to the decision.  But there’s an interesting quote from the UNC AD worth mentioning:

… Although they are responsible for their actions, they are part of our university and our program and we will support them as they move into the next phases of their lives. I know they love to play the game, but I hope they will learn from their mistakes and lead productive and responsible careers.

Which begs the question, if these three don’t wind up paying a price in terms of their position in the next NFL draft as a result of this – and I’m not arguing whether they should or not – doesn’t that send a message to high-profile college athletes that the NCAA’s adherence to some standard of amateurism is basically irrelevant in terms of those players’ ultimate goal?

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UPDATE: The header on this Sporting News piece should tell you all you need to know.

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11 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

11 responses to “Will the NFL put a price tag on Agentgate?

  1. Go Dawgs!

    I’m not sure I’m clear on the question. I think that there’s little doubt that taking an entire year away from playing will have some impact on these athletes’ NFL draft stock. Sure, there’s a precedent out there for a player skipping a year and then being drafted high, Mike Williams ended up getting hosed by the NCAA after he declared for the draft in the wake of Maurice Clarett’s court case and then ended up being drafted at #10 overall (thank goodness for the Detroit Lions). Of course, he was an NFL bust, and who knows if you can blame that on his missed year or not.

    But my real confusion here is just what the heck can the NCAA do about what message these players getting drafted or not drafted sends to other athletes? The NCAA has basically pulled out the biggest hammer they have, putting AJ Green on the shelf for four games, and ultimately ending the careers of these three players from UNC. Most athletes who will ever suit up to play college football don’t fall into the category of automatic NFL draft picks, perhaps not even before the start of their final seasons. I think you could argue that most athletes will have a definite interest in safeguarding their ability to play football and impress pro scouts, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and hoping the Detroit Lions will burn a draft pick based on two year old tape and a combine performance.

    • I’m not asking that question in terms of what can the NCAA do. I just wonder what happens if the marketplace doesn’t bail out the NCAA. In other words, if Marvin Austin winds up being a top-10 draft pick, what’s he really lost?

      • Go Dawgs!

        The only thing he loses if he’s still a top-10 draft pick is his reputation in the state of North Carolina. And really, at a basketball school, maybe not even that. So, I see your point. The messed up thing is that the NCAA can’t do anything about it, and the NFL’s not interested in doing anything about it.

      • TennesseeDawg

        Nothing. For the player there is nothing to lose so long as he is a sure fire 1st round pick. For borderline talent that could improve their draft position in college they have a lot more to lose.

    • 69Dawg

      The weird thing is didn’t these guys come back for their senior year? Why would they do that?

  2. Chuck

    I don’t see them losing anything. If they don’t get drafted, it will be because there are people ahead of them that are better, not because they sat out year. Some guys need a year, and this might affect them, but the ones that agents are preying upon are not likely to be in that category. It’s a problem, and it is one the NFL should work to cooperate with at least a little because they need the free minor league program they have.

  3. gernblanski

    How much these guys will lose or not lose is going to be subjective and probably depend on your point of view.

    Look at Dez Bryant – his situation from last year most closely resembles the UNC trio’s situation.

    Bryant hung out with Deion Sanders – who the NCAA suspected of being an “agent.” Then Bryant lied about it and missed the rest of last year.

    Already suspected of being a bit of selfish player, the NFL draft pros dug deep into his personal life which ended up being tabloid fodder. Before the 2009 college season, he was the top NFL receiver prospect and project to be a T0p 10 NFL pick.

    He ended up falling to #24 in the draft. On the surface, it looks like Bryant cost himself big time. Falling from a Top 10 pick to the lower part of the first round. However, only two WR’s were taken in the first round period – Bryant @ 24 & BeBe Thomas @ 22. His drop to 24 was probably more a cause of the positional needs of teams 1-23 and not due to his talent/2009 eligibility issues.

    So Bryant did not play the majority of his Sr. year and ended up being the 2nd receiver drafted in the 2010 draft. That sounds pretty good.

    I suppose that if he had played a full year and been spectacular then teams may have created a WR need and drafted him much higher – but who knows really?

  4. Here’s the chicken-egg thing that pretty much guarantees the NCAA is screwed.

    If you are good enough to get caught in one of these scandals, it means you are good enough to get drafted with or without whatever games/season you lose.

    If you aren’t good enough for an automatic draft pick, you don’t have these agents falling all over themselves to this extent anyway.

    There may be a few borderline people right in between those two groups, but that’s a small number.

    In the end, all the NCAA is accomplishing is ruining the lives of those borderline kids (they end up with no NFL job *AND* no education) while doing absolutely nothing about the actual problem.

    But this is typical for the NCAA. All they care about is their continued existence and control over the billion dollar industry of college sports. They don’t give a crap about the kids in school or even the schools themselves.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      You nailed it. The players get screwed by the nfl or ncaa, or the agents, or the coaches. They don’t have any say in the rules (ncaa and nfl make the rules). They don’t have any money to hire an attorney to make sure their rights aren’t infringed (whereas nfl and ncaa have armies of attornies). They are little more than cattle in the scheme of things.

  5. Sep

    I think the only remedy to any of this is serious criminal charges against the agents/boosters. The kids don’t lose too much if they’re studs.

    What 20 year old doesn’t dream of fame and riches?

    • gernblanski

      Sep – I disagree. If the NCAA and its member schools were truly serious about ending the agent problem they would do the following:

      1. Suspend any athlete caught receiving extra benefits from an agent for a full season.

      2. If the ineligible athlete played in any regular season while ineligible – the school must return a portion of the game revenue including tv $$ to the conference. The game result is vacated.

      3. If the ineligible athlete participated in a post-season contest (bowl game, NCAA tourney, etc.) those funds must be returned to the event sponsor.

      4. If the athlete still chooses to participate, athlete must sign contract agreeing to reimburse the school for lost revenues. Also scholarship is no longer a “scholarship” but is considered a long-term loan. Athlete must agree to a debt repayment strategy after matriculation.

      5. If the athlete no longer has remaining eligibility and/or choose to enter the professional ranks and/or choose to not reimburse the school for the lost revenues and scholarship costs, the member school should sue the offending player.

      I know this sounds harsh. I have no idea if it is even legal under the current grant-in-aid structure.

      The actions of these agents is already “criminal” in some states and has not deterred the problem. State law enforcement agencies do not have the time or resources to enforce the laws already on the books.

      But I fully believe that the first time a 20 year old kid like Dez Bryant realizes that his entire signing bonus could be taken – it will make a lot of kids stand up and take notice.