New state law takes strong measures to protect student athletes, educational institutions
New state law takes strong measures to protect student athletes, educational institutionsOctober 23, 2003Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
New York State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco announced Oct. 23 at Syracuse University that Gov. George E. Pataki has signed into law the Uniform Athlete Agents Act protecting student athletes and educational institutions across New York state from the actions of unscrupulous agents.
The act, sponsored by DeFrancisco and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), establishes statutory parameters of acceptable practice for athlete agents.
In an unregulated environment, an unscrupulous agent can employ inappropriate tactics-including secret payments or gifts to a student athlete or a family member-to induce the student athlete to enter into an agency contract. The results can be devastating for both the student athlete and his or her educational institution. The student athlete is at risk of losing eligibility and with it the opportunity to pursue an academic degree. The educational institution may face sanctions and forfeiture of revenues from post-season appearances, and can incur reputational damage that threatens the viability of its athletic program.
With the governor’s signature, New York becomes the 36th state with an athlete agent law. The act was passed by the Assembly May 5 and by the Senate June 19. It was supported by Syracuse University, St. John’s University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.
“We are grateful to Governor Pataki and legislators DeFrancisco and Ortiz for their action to protect student athletes and the integrity of intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics in New York state,” says SU Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw. “We are especially appreciative of Senator DeFrancisco, a former SU student athlete, who worked very hard to get this legislation passed in the Senate.”
“With the fierce competition that currently exists at the collegiate level, college athletes sometimes fall victim to the unscrupulous practices of dishonest agents without even realizing it,” says DeFrancisco. “These unsuspecting students are then punished for something that they did not know violated NCAA rules. This law will help to prevent students from being taken advantage of by regulating the conduct of athlete agents and helping to create a fairer and healthier recruitment process.””The NCAA holds its member institutions culpable for the actions of agents when they are improperly involved with their athletes. When an agent provides an inducement to a student athlete, the student athlete is declared ineligible for competition and the institution may be subject to forfeiture of games or financial penalties,” says SU Director of Athletics Jake Crouthamel. ” The adoption of this bill is a step in the right direction to give institutions recourse against agents that illegally induce their student athletes and ultimately put the institution in an untenable position.”
Among its provisions, the Uniform Athlete Agents Act:
- requires athlete agents to register with the New York Department of State; potential professional athletes will have access to the registration information, including a description of the agent’s formal training, practical experience, educational background and any felony convictions, and any actions by the agent that have resulted in the declaration of ineligibility of a student athlete;
- prohibits an athlete agent from willfully initiating contact with a student athlete unless registered, predating or postdating agency contracts, and providing materially false information on an application;
- empowers the secretary of state to deny an application for registration and to revoke, suspend or refuse to renew a registration if the secretary of state determines that the applicant has engaged in conduct that has a significant adverse impact on the applicant’s fitness to act as an athlete agent;
- subjects out-of-state agents who work in New York state to state court jurisdiction;
- grants the secretary of state the authority to assess a civil penalty of not more than $25,000;
- subjects athlete agents to potential criminal sanctions if they engage in certain prohibited acts, including furnishing anything of value to a student athlete before the student athlete enters into a contract, failing to notify the student athlete prior to entering into an agency contract that he/she may be rendered ineligible by such action, and providing materially false and misleading information;
- provides strong economic incentive for athlete agents to refrain from engaging in activities that will jeopardize a student athlete’s eligibility by voiding an agency contract if the athlete agent has not complied with the legislation’s registration requirements;
- allows a student athlete to cancel an agency contract within five days after he or she has signed it; and
- requires that an agency contract contain a warning to the student athlete, the amount and method of calculating consideration to be paid by the student athlete for services rendered by the agent, a description of expenses that the student athlete will reimburse, and the duration of the contract; a contract that does not contain the required provisions is voidable by the student athlete.
In addition, the law empowers educational institutions to pursue a civil remedy for damages caused by a violation of its provisions and requires an athlete agent to notify an educational institution within 72 hours or before the student athlete’s next athletic event, whichever comes first, after a student athlete enters into an agency contract.