Always read the fine print, part two.

I noted back in February that the Connecticut legislature was considering a bill called the “Connecticut Student-Athletes’ Right to Know Act”.  The bill required schools to be more forthcoming with recruits about the ins and outs of athletic scholarships.

Well, Connecticut House Bill 5415 has in fact passed.  Its passage is being hailed as a “major breakthrough for players’ rights”.  The bill requires Connecticut schools to post a hyperlink on the front page of their official athletic web sites which takes a reader to a list of policies the schools follow.  Oh, yeah, if recruits are given written materials by recruiters, those materials must contain a reference to the web site and link.

That’s nice.  And it’s better than nothing at all.  But it’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread, either.

That’s because it was watered down from a proposal that really did have some teeth to it.

… The original bill was entitled “An Act Requiring the Informed Consent of Prospective Athletes Being Recruited to Institutions of Higher Education.”  The present bill has been renamed ”An Act Requiring Full Disclosure to Prospective Athletes Being Recruited to Institutions of Higher Education.”  The substitution of ”full disclosure” for  ”informed consent” may appear semantic, but is significant.  Full disclosure is a much lower standard than the elevated duty of informed consent.

Moreover, the present bill merely requires that colleges and universities “provide a hyperlink entitled ‘Student Athletes’ Right to Know’ on the front page of its official athletic Internet web site with various details concerning the “fine print” contained in the athletic scholarship.  Coaches who recruit student-athletes will not be responsible for disclosure and informed consent as described in the original bill.  Clearly, a hyperlink on already busy athletic department website does not compare to the compliance required by a coach obtaining informed consent from a student-athlete.

Gee, I wonder how that happened.

Again, this isn’t to say the new law isn’t without its good points.  Putting the information out there in a coordinated fashion can’t hurt.  But as the author of the above notes, “… this information is only useful if the student-athlete clicks on the hyperlink, reviews the information and has a conversation with the coaches recruiting the student-athlete.”  Now there’s a conversation every head coach looks forward to having with a prospective student-athlete and his parents.

So, no, the next major step isn’t to provide more of the same with regard to information about academics, as the post at suggests.  It’s to eliminate the virtual middleman the legislature created when it changed the direction of the bill.  Make coaches have that talk and make them do it in a substantive way so that informed consent means just that.  Then we’ll have something worth bragging about.


Filed under Political Wankery, Recruiting

18 responses to “Always read the fine print, part two.

  1. SC Dawg

    Let me know when the State of Alabama passes a similar law. I’ll be eating buffalo pork wings and ice fishing with lucifer.


    • It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if something like that was on next year’s agenda at Destin. That’s how Slive rolls.


      • SC Dawg

        I’ll agree with you on that. I was just stating if it gets watered down in the football hotbed of Connecticut then Alabama state legislature doesn’t stand a chance passing it. If Slive does pass it, even with informed consent, what does that change for someone like Nick Saban? The only time we heard of complaining from athletes about medical hardships or transfers was when the Wall Street Journal went digging. Why don’t they complain? Also, would this informed consent involve a signed document that the student athlete would be able to use in his defense when a coach forces a transfer? Could you give us some details on what this all legally means, don’t you love when we drag your profession into your hobby?


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        It would be more important and more effective if it was an SEC or even better an NCAA rule.


  2. Macallanlover

    This may not be obvious to those writing the laws but the athletes involved are not likely to click on any hyper links, and there is very little chance they can understand fine print, especially that written by legislators. Just show me the way to the tatoo parlors and tell me where the “clubs” are.


  3. Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

    A state (say, maybe, one called “Georgia”) could decide to regulate recruitment of its high school atletes. That state could require all recruiters at any time present in the state to make written disclosure of things like signing numbers, graduation success rates, costs of attendence, etc. to high school students being recruited in that state.

    Written disclosure could be required at initial contact and within x days before signing a National Letter of Intent.

    It could be a criminal offense to violate the law and make the NLI voidable at the student’s option.

    Screw what Alabama does! A state could and should protect its own high school students from unscrupulous recruiters if it wanted to.


  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    This makes me foresee 100 page prospectuses (prospecti?) for college recruits, like they give out for securities. We’ll have entire law firms, hundreds of capable people, earning a living drfafting these documents and aending them to state (and maybe federal) authorities for review, amendment and approval. And don’t forget the plaintiff’s lawyers, ready to pounce whenever there’s a minor deviation. As a small town lawyer who won’t be seeing any of that business, I’m pissed and jealous.


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      “drafting and sending” Sorry, eggs got in the way.


    • AthensHomerDawg

      octopuses, octopi ? 😉


    • Wonderful Ohio On The Gulf 'Dog

      You raise a good point! The feds (and states) mandate all kinds of disclosures and rights to rescind to “accredited investors” who have the money, education, and experience to look out for themselves, and not one peep is required to kids not even yet out of high school.

      If adult and well-heeled investors should be entitled to mandated information from promoters, then, a fortiori, kids not yet out of high school ought to be given basic disclosure by recruiters.

      State-mandated disclosure of the stuff we’re talking about here, though, would be require lot fewer than 100 pages, and be much less complicated than what you would find in a common private placement memorandum much less in a prospectus or official statement.

      TILA and RESPA require disclosures (and, in certain cases, three-day recessionary rights) for very ordinary mortgage loans. TILA and RESPA disclosure documents are not complicated at all (although conceded that TILA disclosure is essentially worthless in actually disclosing anything useful).

      Sadly for us in the legal profession, the kinds of disclosure contemplated need not require entire law firms of hundreds of capable people earning a living drafting disclosure documents.

      Having said that, I can see a Valdosta or Thomasvllle lawyer or two finding enough student athlete clients reviewing disclosures for students. The fees wouldn’t put Hogbody’s kids through college, but you could earn something and help out clients who have a shot at being a big deal in the future.

      The State of Georgia could mandate disclosures by all recruiters of its high school athletes who recruit personally in-state. Such disclosures would work no disadvantage to UGA or any in-state school,

      I guarantee after a few years, every other state would be following suit.


      • Vinings Dog

        I am all for protecting the student athlete. However, this ‘”legislation” should be handled at the school, conference, or NCAA level. Local, state, and federal governments are already doing things they should not do.


        • Wonderful Ohio On The Gulf 'Dog

          Agreed governments are already doing things they shouldn’t. That’s an entirely different issue, however.

          State governments have every right to regulate contacts between recruiters and their high school students.

          If one believes, as I do, that some schools routinely mislead potential recruits (especially concerning “oversigning”), then mandating pertinent disclosures to high school students and their families is the least states can do to protect their own students.

          It is foolhardy to expect schools to regulate their own lies to recruits: it is to the schools’ advantage that the lies continue.

          Similarly, conferences are not going to place their schools at what they perceive as their competitive disadvantage by requiring that conference’s schools to be truthful while other conferences’ schools aren’t so restricted.

          The NCAA? Surely you jest! Gordon Gee and Gene Smith still have their jobs!

          There is no disadvantage to a state or to its high school students if colleges and universities are required to make truthful disclosures to student-athletes residing in that state. Disclosure requirements could be imposed upon any recruiter physically appearing within a state, so, unlike the Connecticut law, it would apply to out-of-state schools as well as in-state schools.

          If a particular school wished not to comply with a particular state’s mandated disclosure, that school could simply choose not to send recruiters into that state to recruit players. A non-compliant out-of-state school could still recruit in that state, but it would be limited to mailing and calling recruits, not visiting them personally.

          Finally, if the states do not step up to the plate to protect their own citizens who haven’t even yet graduated high school for the most part, the feds will do it.

          If you think governments are now doing the things they shouldn’t, just wait ’till the feds step in and impose one size fits all on everyone.


  5. Dude

    “If you start smoking those, you’ll die sooner.”
    “If you eat too many of these, you’ll die sooner.”
    “If you eat too many of these while smoking those, you’re begging for an early grave.”

    Yeah, this warning stuff works wonders. However, I bet if we made people sign something before eating these and smoking those….