State of Florida Came Close to Deregulating Agents

Thanks to a tip from cocknfire, I ran across this story about how the state legislature in Florida came close to deregulating sports agents

The law in question basically covers licensing that agents must have in order to do business in the state. The associated regulations provide stipulations about how and when agents are allowed to contact prospective clients. The most high profile agent to get busted under the existing law is Tank Black, who went to jail for illegally recruiting University of Florida players among a bevy of other charges.

New Florida governor Rick Scott apparently made deregulating sports agents a somewhat major campaign theme, having it symbolize his opposition to regulation in general. Freeing up agents was a part of a bill that loosens restrictions on several other occupations for the purpose of creating jobs in the state. UF AD Jeremy Foley called Florida Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander to make the case against deregulation of agents, and Alexander saw to it that it was removed from the bill.

Given that sports agents make up a vanishingly small percentage of the national work force, deregulating them for the purpose of job creation seems like an awfully flimsy reason to do it me. It is a legitimate question to ask if state governments should regulate sports agents, given that many of the current restrictions largely exist to help colleges stay on the NCAA's good side. Should a government really make law based in part on the bylaws of the NCAA?

That said, the case for regulating sports agents contact with college aged athletes can be easily made. Removing restrictions on agents would create a mountain of new work for the state institutions that participate in NCAA sports, while keeping track of agents in one place on the state level is a more efficient way to do things. Plus, it also helps to protect student athletes from the shady characters that can be attracted to the sports agent business. That is, assuming the players don't invite the shady characters in themselves, of course (hello Reggie Bush, Marvin Austin, et. al.).

It's a good thing for all NCAA institutions that this measure never even went up for a vote. That it helps out the Florida-based schools is obvious, but also consider how many events that other schools participate in within the state: road games/matches in all sports, bowl games, NCAA regional and championship events, etc. Those unregulated agents may not be able to go do their worst on campuses outside the state, but any time a team came into the state, trouble could be afoot.

Alexander for his part says now that he agrees with Foley in that if anything is to change, it's that regulation should be tighter. That is certianly music to the ears of the NCAA and its member institutions.

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